Selfie (noun) /ˈsɛlfi/

A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.” (EOD definition)

Origin: Early 21st century: from self + -ie.

Although taking selfies is considered a 21st century phenomenon, the act of self-representation is not new at all. See the 15th century self-portraits, autobiographies, or even diaries; humans have always sought for ways to present themselves. What is new is the use of digital technologies e.g. the selfie camera, or the creation of online profile that facilitate the act of self-representation. Then, how fair is it to criticise the “selfie mania” as a narcissistic practice?

Another question that may be raised is whether self-representation can mirror reality. However, a representation always brings modification; thus, a representation is always constructed (Want to know more? Read Rettberg’s book). Even in the initial act of taking a picture, “we…consciously and unconsciously transform ourselves before the camera, portraying a version of ourselves we hope to be” (Papacharissi 255). Nevertheless, how aware can one be of his/her “transformation”?

But what about the use of photo filters and built-in lenses? Is it a part of the act of online self-representation? Through this new technology, we do become aware of our own transformation and see ourselves anew.

Using filters on the app is comparable to looking in a mirror: move the phone around and at every angle you’re still in filter character. It’s you, but it’s not you” (Cherrington in Huffpost Style)

However, the presence of the study of the use of lenses in academia is too hazy. That exactly is the reason why we have created this project.

We had launched the LensIt application in order to collect data regarding who and how users used the modified lenses. This website not only provides a platform for users to discuss or share their thoughts about the use of lenses, but also does it give access to the dataset for researchers to analyse and/or visualise them.

To make a long story short, the aim of our project is to raise new questions, trigger further research, and provide new perspectives to the new media visual technology.