Who would have thought it was in India that the selfie game is most in point. The Indian selfie really is leading an industry tidal wave of vanity filled creativity.
While I'm not a huge selfie aficionado, the creative geniuses of Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus have helped boost the art of selfies to stratospheric levels. Their genre defining style has led to absolute domination and power, with Kim managing to become the first selfie career artist. An art form that had fallen a little by the way side has now become the absolute be all and end all of modernist social media art. The self portrait has been around for a long time, and was at one point seen as an absolute peak of artistic talent (not in terms of being sought after, but the actual skill involved). Being able to create a lifelike and believable rendition of yourself from a mirror that captured both emotion and life required both vanity and expertise with the artistic weapon of choice. It was also fairly common practice for artists to slip themselves into works in the background as a cheeky one finger salute to whoever was buying it. As art changed the poor selfie was left to rot and squander in its own vain filth.
However, with the birth of the digital camera and the undeniable genius introduction of the front facing camera on phones the selfie has been resurrected like a self involved and omnipresent Jesus. For all those doubting Thomas' out there get on Instagram and check what's what. Selfie games be strong and the art of selfie is definitely the most produced art style around. The Leonardo's and Caravaggio's of our time are almost always celebrities, with the biggest popularity comes the ever increasingly creative desire to progress the art and give the fans what they want. Over time more radical splinter movements have formed such as the controversial belfie (butt selfie), and the oh so risqué wilfie (willy selfie), but the original is arguably the best.
While the west might think they have the selfie style locked up, I believe that in India is where you can find the crucible of the selfie game being poured to forge the one selfie to rule them all. Here selfie is the only photo worth taking and it is here the art form will advance the most.
Coming off the plane I knew that selfies were going to be big, before leaving the airport we had seen stands just selling selfie sticks and some adverts for a phone that included a front facing flash as well. If that is genre pushing innovation then I don't know what is. However, it was when we got to some of the sights that the true extent of selfie domination was evident.
We arrived in India during Diwali which has meant that a lot of the country is on holiday and therefore visiting the sites too. When we arrived at the Taj Mahal almost 70% of the people there were Indian tourists. While I am sure there is a huge appreciation for the artistic skill, and the beauty of the building, the Indian tourists seemed to be far more interested getting a selfie near the site, or just somewhere in the vicinity. It was as if once they had collected the selfie and uploaded it to Instagram with a location tag, and classic hashtag such as #tajmahselfie or #selfiedomination, then that was the reason for coming to the site done. I know that everywhere takes selfie, but I had never seen it on this level. The number of selfie sticks looked as if everyone had come to fight in a strange medieval-style smartphone battle. The queues for the selfie on a bench, or the lack of caring if the site was really in the shot was a thing of beauty in itself.
While a lot of my own photos were just of the building , maybe I've missed a trick. My photo could have been taken by anyone, obviously I know I took it and for me that's what gives me the memory. But, of I show it to someone else the fact I'm not in it may be detrimental. So perhaps going forward I should self indulge myself in a selfie and realise that Marc Francis, of Made in Chelsea fame, was talking for everyone when he said:
I'm not seasonal darling, I'm a timeless fucking classic.