The production of concepts about someone by the person himself may today seem like something that has always been around, but it wasn't until the 19th century that people started seeing themselves as individuals, as unique beings. The invention of intimacy was a success and, with it, came diaries, the creation of small, private things and the reunion of symbols used to represent us. Photography, which, at the time, was taking its first steps, was fundamental in helping us recognize ourselves outside of who we are and, mainly in helping us discover it was possible to forge identities - real or not - for the public.
It is likely that we are living in a very similar revolution. When dictatorships spread around the globe, whether they were communist, nazi or capitalist, the mass production of clothes, buildings or even behaviours was very well implemeted, for the befits they brought to the community and consumerism alike. Nowadays, there are few people who would find collectivism attractive, the person as an individual has become a cult again and, once again, photography plays an important role in its affirmation.
The widespread of digital cameras is one of the biggest phenomenons of our post-modern society. Everything can be photographed as there is no longer the inconvinient prices of film and development of pictures, which used to limit the amount of pictures we could take. Nowadays, we don't have to worry about such details, so we take pictures of our parties, of other people's parties, of stranger's parties, births, classes, going to the bakery, bees, the office table... Everything. But mainly, we have rediscovered the pleasure of taking pictures of ourselves, believing in the peerless importance of our daily lives, our intimacies, the people, things and animals which are dear to us.
Self-portraits have a very similar purpose to the function studio pictures had nearly two centuries ago: edit your own body, turning it into a symbol of the social class the person belongs to. Today, when we say goodbye to photographers and choose to rely on the timer in cameras instead, we can 'symbolize' only ourselves. Such can make it seem like we are experiencing a moment of schizophrenia, however, understanding the complexity of the process we realize such is not the case; at the same time we long to be authentic, we want to have a group we can belong to - take, for instance, the fact that a self-portrait is never taken and saved away, we always feel the need to publish it here and there, in Orkut, or My Space, or Messenger... The Internet is the convulsion of this phenomenon.
And it is precisely while cruising through these sorts of websites that we can dive into this rich universe of self-manipulation of the body. What do these bodies say? Are they free or controlled? Outspoken or silent? What do they mean and why the use of certain objects, poses and clothes? With these questions in mind, we can uncover a lot about our society and a lot about ourselves; invented beings, with no outside or inside, beings as thought by Foucault, on the border.
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