Selfies have been called frivolous and even dangerous—as when the selfie shooter backs into traffic or over a cliff). But in “#selfiesuit_documentation” California artist Paul Taylor treats the self genre as a research tool. Taylor’s experimental video, featuring an iPhone 5c, is in the tradition of anthropologist Erving Goffman, who used street theater to explore human nature. Or, if you prefer a less academic reference, you might be reminded of “Candid Camera” television show. In the brief interview (below), Taylor explains the theory behind “#selfiesuit_documentation.”
MMM: How did you come up with this concept?
TAYLOR: I have had the idea to do this project for quite a while, and got the opportunity to realize it at the end of 2016 as I had a solo exhibition with the Building Imagination Center in Turlock, CA. The idea stemmed from my ambivalent feelings about increased digital immersion in our lives, and how it has affected our ability to perceive reality and interact with one another.
MMM: Where do selfies fit in?
TAYLOR: I wanted to disrupt the action by reversing the polarity of the selfie. A mirrored suit does just that. If you take a photo of the suit, you are taking a selfie. If I take a selfie, I am taking a photo of you. If something occurs in your life and it isn’t documented, posted to social media, and liked, did it really happen?
MMM: Were there any big challenges in making the movie?
TAYLOR: The only real difficulties I faced during shooting had to do with the suit malfunctioning on a few occasions. The first time I took it out, along the Embarcadero in San Francisco, the front panel of the helmet fell off, due to an issue with the adhesive I used. A friend of mine ran to a nearby hardware store and got some double sided tape which fixed it. There were a few other minor issues with parts of the suit becoming unattached but overall everything went pretty smoothly.
MMM: How have audiences reacted to “#selfiesuit_documentation”?
TAYOR: The response has been quite positive! Some people find it funny, others are drawn to the sometimes bizarre optical effects of the suit as it moves through various spaces. I’m looking forward to continuing this project—bringing the suit to different parts of the country and abroad.
# # #
You can learn more about Paul Taylor’s visual art at www.paultaylor-art.com.
#selfiesuit_documentation” was chosen by the editors of MobileMovieMaking Magazine as a Mobile Movie of the Week.