Photo Booth Selfie

oil on canvas

130cm x 100cm



‘Photo Booth Selfie’ references the complex relationship between painting and photography. The arrival of photography in the nineteenth century represented an existential threat to painting, and subsequently affected many of the artistic movements that followed. Artists, in particular portraitists, were under pressure to make clear the difference between their portraits and mechanical ones. This discord continued and made many artists deliberately avoid the use of photography in their practice. However, with the recent advent of digital technology there has been a growing understanding that  photography can be the subject of manipulation and therefore might not be the trusted historical documents they were assumed to be. For some portrait artists digital imaging has even replaced the sketchbook, as it allows greater scope for experimentation.  

This painting plays with these ideas as the artist surreptitiously emerges from a photo booth, as if not wanting to be seen having a photo taken, yet clearly this painting is itself based on a photo, for it’s composition is in obvious contrast with the mirrored self-portraits of the past. Furthermore, the painting addresses the idea that in the not-too-distant future the photo booth as an object will become obsolete and require explanation to future generations accustomed to using hand held devices to photograph themselves.