The appearance of classic portrait painting dates back to the beginning of the Renaissance age when painters started to attach growing importance to the representation of special characteristics of the individual. This was the time when the first known picture depicting a portrait was painted by Jean Fouquet in 1450.
The genre of portraits quickly became popular then. Initially it was a privilege of the rich, but it gradually took over the lower classes of society.
Portrait being the most subjective genre does not only depicts the facial features of the person in the painting, but also serves as a valuable imprint of the spirit of the age in which it was made. It offers an opportunity to see the features of different ages from the individual’s perspective.
Portrait photography and photography itself are the same age – both were officially born in 1839. It is an interesting fact that the first selfie was taken by an American photographer, Robert Cornelius in the same year. The increase in the use of Polaroid cameras in the 1960s resulted in the propagation of selfie-attempts. The most well-known of them are probably the Polaroid self-portrait series of Andy Warhol.
Creating portraits, self-portraits and selfies was greatly facilitated by the technical progress, especially the reduction in the size of cameras, and then the global spread of digital technology.
The selfie-phenomenon became a symbol of the narcissistic modern age. However, it is a tool and a platform which proves the individual’s strong demand for self-expression and maintaining links to the society.
It gives a special quality to the composition that only one person can stay in the showroom. Hidden mobile phone take photo of the visitor before entering the room, so one face his or her own portrait when he or she steps into the exhibition space. Cameras of the mobile phones hidden in the frames around the screens on which the guest faces his or her own likeness are taking more and more photos of the visitor and continuously forward them onto the succeeding displays.
It is another peculiarity of the installation that the artist is not present at the process of creation, the spectator generates it, and only the visitor can see his or her portraits. The author will never be able to see his or her own “work”, creator of the pictures remains an outsider, and entering the showroom, he or she becomes a spectator, a guest straight away.
The installation blurs traditional borders between the genres of portrait and self-portrait, because the author exploring the exhibition contributes to the process of creation, but the works immediately disappear after his leaving. Therefore, the exhibition is in a constant change.
The work is a game with ourselves and a phenomenon observable in the social media. MySelf installation reveals that – because of the online spreading portraits and self-portraits made in mass-production due to the rapid development of digital technology – the individual lost its control over his or her own pictures.