The Selfie as Feedback: Video, Narcissism, and the Closed-Circuit Video Installation

  • Angela Krewani


This chapter undertakes a genealogical approach to the selfie in looking for its media precursors by focusing on one of the selfie’s dominant features: its immediacy and its isochronism, meaning the simultaneity of individual and monitored image. Different from the traditional photographic portrait, the user can watch his/her representation on the screen of a mobile application, usually the smartphone. In the history of media technology, the video camera and the closed-circuit video installation have been the first appliances to offer the simultaneous technological image; thus, the closed-circuit video can be regarded as a cultural and technological predecessor to the selfie. In the further course of the argument, this idea is explored by referring the visual isochronism to cybernetic concepts such as “loop” and “feedback” as well as to Claude Shannon’s “mathematical theory of communication.” On the basis of a technological model of information and communication, this chapter furthers the idea of electronic media as being part of a larger system that reacts and interacts. In this context, media function not so much as tools of representation but as agents of discursive storage, calculation, and transmission systems. All these actions are enclosed in electronic and digital structures. Considered against this technological background, the selfie appears as a continuation of cybernetic concepts.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Krewani
    • 1
  1. 1.Philipps-University MarburgMarburgGermany

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