'The Selfie Project' by Norwegian photographer Kristoffer Eliassen explores the relations between man and technology through staged photography. Eliassen, originally educated from Bergen Academy of Arts and Design, has throughout his whole career been interested in this particular topic. In this project, as in his previous work, Eliassen stands both in front of and behind the camera. Eliassen won 3rd place in the Staged category of the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards.
Hi Kristoffer, firstly tell us abit about your winning series ‘The Selfie Project’?
I wanted to observe and explore how people act when they are taking selfies, and move focus from close-up selfie faces to selfie situations and actions. I am particularly interested in how the act of taking a selfie has created new and remarkable ways of bodily behaviour: When looking at ourselves on the display of the smartphone, we tend to forget how we in fact look in the eyes of others in that very moment.
Taking a selfie is a performative act, where self-regulation and self-disclosure form part of the performance. On the one hand, it is about taking control and pretending to be someone, and on the other hand, let go, or lose control. The Selfie Project plays with this paradox, often in a humouristic way, and also with photographical conventions from genres like snapshots, postcards, portraits and film stills.
Where did the idea come from for this series?
About three years ago I met media and gender researcher Lin Prøitz, who happened to be a “tech geek” just like me. We both shared the interest for photography and in particular photography in social media, and we both had a job background from the Norwegian telecom company Telenor – she as a researcher and me as a Graphic Designer and UX Designer.
We decided to make an e-book together about selfie and the photographic self, and I came up with the idea to include a photo project in the e-book as an artistic approach to the topic. We wanted to create a cross-genre e-book, combining theoretical knowledge and art.
How has winning the awards impacted your career as a photographer?
Winning the awards has given my work more attention in Norway and abroad. I have been interviewed on Norwegian, Colombian and Mexican TV about winning the prize, and my images are shared on news websites, photo websites and blogs all over the world. And, I hope the prize and all the attention about winning it has made people more curious about my work.
You’ve just run a seminar in Norway, can you tell us abit more about the project?
As part of the artist meets researcher collaboration with researcher Lin Prøitz, we wanted to extend our project on exploring the photographic self to also include an international seminar in Oslo, Norway. We applied to a foundation in Norway (Fritt Ord) for financial support to arrange the seminar, and got funded.
We invited researchers, curators and artists in European countries and Australia with different approaches to the photographic self and selfies to come and present their work. The seminar, arranged on Oct 1-2 (2016), was a collaboration with the Norwegian national museum of photography, Preus Museum, and the event ended at the museum, with the opening of the exhibition #Jeg (#Me). Lin Prøitz and I contributed to the exhibition as co-curators, and also with my selfie photo series. So, the exhibition "#Me", the e-book "Self Image", and the seminar "Self/Image/Public" were our three projects about the photographical self, all of which were completed in October 2016.
The exhibition is open until March 12, 2017, and the e-book (in Norwegian, and containing an English translation at the end of the book) is available in Apple’s iBooks Store.
Would you recommend others to enter the competition?
Yes, of course – participation is free of charge, and is open to everyone, and shortlisted participants and winners have a great opportunity to get their work exposed all over the world.