Selfiecity Project Applies Demographic Analysis and Pattern Visualization to Instagram Photos from Five World Cities

SelfiecityLev Manovich, professor of computer science at the Graduate Center, is coordinator of Selfiecity, a project using 3,200 Instagram selfie photos, taken between December 4 and 12, 2013, in Bangkok, Berlin, Moscow, New York, and São Paulo, to explore how people represent themselves using mobile photography in social media.

The project analyzes the subjects’ demographics, poses, and expressions and offers an interactive component, Selfiexploratory, to allow visitors to filter and explore the photos themselves. Like Manovich’s earlier work with big data in the Phototrails project, Selfiecity also creates visualizations, assembling thousands of photos to reveal interesting data patterns.

The researchers found a marked difference between cities, with Bangkok and São Paulo selfie photos showing significantly more smiles than photos in other cities. And women take many more selfies, with more expressive poses than the photos taken by men.

Scholars in art history, media theory, and feminist theory are contributing to the project as well. An essay by Alise Tifentale, a Ph.D. candidate in art history at the GC, reviews some of the recent debates on the selfie phenomenon and places it into a broader context of photographic self-portraiture.

See the press release and Selfiecity fact sheet for more information about the project’s findings and methodology.

Submitted on: FEB 19, 2014

Category: Art History | Computer Science | Faculty Activities | General GC News