Author Archives: Jessica Helfand, Senior Critic, Yale University School of Art and Visiting Professor, Paris College of Art

This Picture: To Thine Own Selfie Be True


Hand pointing, light beams in background © SuperStock/Corbis.

On Christmas Day in 2006, Time magazine published its annual “Person of the Year” issue, with a strange twist: they didn’t actually select a person. Instead, the cover featured a photo of a computer, on top of which lay a small, reflective paper rectangle—a makeshift mirror floating above a single, captivating word: You.

Nodding to the then newly minted capacity to customize one’s online presence, this comparatively brazen editorial conceit perfectly captured a sense of where things appeared to be heading. American culture stood at that moment on the precipice of a new, self-obsessed democracy: for the people and by the people—and photographed by the people, too. With that seminal issue, we were told to get ready for our close-up, and get ready we did. Continue reading