Selfie Culture

Selfie Culture

23 November 2018 | Kunstuniversität Linz

Selfies are ubiquitous, in daily life and in art. Artistic forms of self-representation exist throughout history. They changed in the digital age with its online distribution forms. How did artistic-self representation develop in art history? How do traditional forms evolve in the digital age? The symposium SELFIE CULTURE examines the history of artistic self-representation as well as contemporary artistic practice. It gathers art historians and artists as speakers and invites curators, artists and scholars to participate.


9:30 Start Get Together

9:45 – 10:00 Welcome & Introduction Prof. Dr. Christa Sommerer & Tina Sauerländer

10:00 – 11:00 Anna Gehlen, Talk
#selfie – from Albrecht Dürer to Kim Kardashian

Short Break

11:15 – 12:15 Jonas Blume, Talk
A Sea Of Islands

12:15– 12:30 Tina Sauerländer, Short Talk
Artistic Self-Staging in the 19th Century


13:45 – 14:45 Martina Menegon, Talk
Synthetic Corporeality in Contemporary Digital Art Practice

14:45 – 15:15 Tina Sauerländer, Short Talk
Artistic Self-Staging in 21st Century

Short Break

15:30 – 16:15 Carla Gannis, Talk (via Skype)
The Augmented Selfie

16:15 – 17:15 Wrap up & final discussion
Jonas Blume, Anna Gehlen, Martina Menegon, Tina Sauerländer, Prof. Dr. Christa Sommerer

17:30 End of event

The symposium will be held in English.
Free of charge, no registration needed.


© Jonas Blume, 2018


A Sea Of Islands

Jonas Blume speaks about his work and how it relates to the concept of the internet as a sea of islands connected by oceanic fabric, separated by sub-surface trenches, and subjected to the flow of currents to shape their social topography.

The talk will touch on the lonelyweb and secluded niche communities, the intimacy of anonymity and why having one online identity is not enough, why nobody wants to be friends with their parents online, how image worlds turn into reality, how internet and mainstream cultures affect each other, why WoW servers are the better dating sites, and why it is about time to explore and embrace your virtual selves.

Jonas Blume (*Germany, 1989) is a conceptual multimedia artist working with installation, video, and performance. He holds a BFA in sculpture from Pratt Institute, and received an MA in Visual and Media Anthropology from Freie Universitaet Berlin, where he conducted research on the social and artistic potentials of fictionalized online selves. Recent exhibitions include Touching from a Distance at Literaturhaus Berlin; Personae at Somos (Berlin), Pendoran Vinci at NRW-Forum (Duesseldorf), and Deep Water Cultures at Goethe Institute Montreal.


#selfie – from Albrecht Dürer to Kim Kardashian

In a time of Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook, self-portrayal through selfies is a contemporary and popular practice. It was introduced to the artistic production during the Middle Ages, initially in a religious context. Therefore, self-portrayal – especially artistic – is an old subject and self-portraits are able to tell us a lot about the society, in which they were produced.

For this long artistic tradition, it is interesting to see, what happens, if we put e.g. Kim Kardashian’s selfies in a line with Albrecht Dürer’s famous self-portrait.

Anna Gehlen studied art history, musicology and modern history at the University of Bonn, HfM Weimar and at the University of Jena. During that time she worked at the studio of Gerhard Richter for six years. From 2009-2015 she ran the off-space BRUCH&DALLAS, curated numerous exhibitions and supported the communication of contemporary art.

Anna Gehlen is a lecturer at the Institute of Art & Art Theory at the University of Cologne

Photo credit: ©Martina Menegon


Synthetic Corporeality in Contemporary Digital Art Practice

“the awareness of the self is most significantly activated at the moments of disturbance of balance, in situations of perplexity and disorientation”
– Ksenia Fedorova


Artists working with Virtual Reality as an artistic medium and form of expression often embrace digital artefacts and imperfections that arise during the creational and computational process. When these digital distortions are applied to the virtual bodies they trigger a sense of “intellectual uncertainty” and uncanniness in which boundaries between “real” and virtual, animate and inanimate, human and non-human get blurred.

In her talk, Martina Menegon will introduce her artistic practice and methodology and further discuss representations of the body in digital art practice, focusing on the intimate and complex assemblage of physical and virtual elements that explore the contemporary self and its synthetic corporeality.

Martina Menegon (Italy, 1988) is a multimedia artist working with Interactive, Digital and Virtual Reality Art. She is teaching at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and at the Art University in Linz and regularly collaborates with Klaus Obermaier and Stefano D’Alessio, teaching multimedia tools for interactive arts and creating interactive performances and installations.

She currently lives and works in Vienna, Austria.

© Carla Gannis, from The Selfie Drawings, Animation, 2017


The Augmented Selfie

In 1901 L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, imagined a kind of augmented reality (AR), viewed through spectacles, that could indicate specific characteristics about a person invisible to the naked eye. Today, AR allows artists to place virtual elements: videos, 3D graphics and audio, into the physical world,
providing “mixed reality” experiences that can offer new perspectives on identity and subjecthood in the twentyfirst century. This paper will highlight how I have implemented selfie vernacular and augmented reality technologies as storytelling devices in identity construction. The drawings and expanded AR narratives in The
Selfie Drawings, a mixed reality artist’s book, are an inventory of how a self, both the physical and virtual body, can be perceived in the Digital Age. Using 2D and 3D elements in my work, fragmenting the body, attaching it to, or intertwining it with digital augmentation devices, I am pondering the state of existing simultaneously IRL and URL in symbiotic relationships with technology and mediated culture.

Carla Gannis is a New York-based artist fascinated by digital semiotics and the situation of identity in the blurring contexts of physical and virtual. She received an MFA in painting from Boston University, and is faculty and the assistant chairperson of The Department of Digital Arts at Pratt Institute. Upon her arrival to New York in the 1990s, Gannis began incorporating digital elements into her painting-based practice. Since then she has eclectically explored the domains of “Internet Gothic,” cutting and pasting from the threads of networked communication, googleable art history, and speculative fiction to produce dark and often humorous explorations of the human condition. Gannis’s work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and screenings, nationally and internationally. Her recent projects include “Portraits in Landscape” Midnight Moment, Times Square Arts, NY; “Sunrise/Sunset” Whitney Museum of Art, NY; “Until the End of the World,” DAM Gallery, Berlin; “A Subject Self-Defined,” TRANSFER Gallery, Brooklyn; and “The Garden of Emoji Delights,” Hudson River Museum, Yonkers. Gannis’s work has been featured in press and publications including, ARTnews, The Creators Project, Wired, FastCo, Hyperallergic, Art F City, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The LA Times, amongst others. Her augmented reality artist book The Selfie Drawings was awarded the Founder’s Award from the 2016 Lumen Prize. Gannis is represented by TRANSFER, New York, and DAM Gallery, Berlin.


© Tina Sauerlaender, 2018


Artistic Self-Staging in the 19th Century

In the 19th century, the artist’s self-conception changed due to a new social role of the artist. The liberalization of the profession and the emergence of the dealers, art critics or artistic journals among others also led to new forms of artistic self-staging. One of the big innovators was Gustave Courbet who staged himself in several complex paintings like The Painter’s Studio: A real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life (1855, Musée d’Orsay, Paris) to criticize academic painting or the role of the artist in society.

Artistic Self-Staging in 21st Century

In the digital age, new forms of artistic self-staging occur due to due to the extended possibilities, e.g. moving images, interaction, digital image processing, communication and dissemination on the Internet. Artists like Amalia Ulman or Andy Kassier use Instagram for staging different roles. Kate Durbin’s URL/IRL performances Hello Selfie reflect on gender and the selfie phenomenon. LaTurbo Avedon creates a CGI-generated online persona.

Tina Sauerlaender is a PhD candidate at The University of Art and Design Linz, Austria, Department Interface Cultures, Prof. Christa Sommerer. She currently works on her thesis that deals with artistic self-staging in the digital age.

Tina Sauerlaender  is a curator and writer based in Berlin. She focuses on the impact of the digital and the internet on individual environments and society. With her exhibition hub peer to space she has been organizing international group shows, e.g The Unframed World. Virtual Reality as Artistic Medium for the 21st Century at HeK Basel (2017), or PENDORAN VINCI. Art & Artificial Intelligence Today at NRW FOrum in Düsseldorf (2018). She is a board member of the media arts society (medienkunstverein) in Berlin.  She is co-founder of RadianceVR, an online platform for artistic VR experiences. And she is the founder of the SALOON, a network for women working in art in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna and Paris.

Supported by Interface Cultures Department in the frame of the Higher Education Structural Fund Austria by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy