Degeneration on The Whereabouts of Present-time Photography

One day, I was at the Waterstone’s in Harrow with my sister because she was checking out a book there. As she was browsing through it, I decided to roam around and look at the different sections upstairs. Deciding to check the arts section, within the Photography section I was astounded to encounter a book I wouldn’t’ve thought would be in the Photography section!

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It was no other than Kim Kardashian’s book, titled “Selfish”.
(I may link this book here to Amazon but I’m not suggesting you should buy it. If anything, frankly I don’t want any of you to buy it at all costs but I do recommend checking the review section on the Amazon site if you want to laugh at something)
It wasn’t that it was Kim K that was there that surprised me but the fact it stated “selfie” on the front made me look at the book in a weird way with a thought along the lines of, “Hold on a minute. This is a thing now within photography??????????”

(Reading on, you will find some NSFW content as well so read at your own risk please.
I apologise in advance but the writer may be crude at times as this goes to show how serious they are writing about this particular book.)

This book is pretty vicious in that it created an argument between people I don’t know. I first saw the book at Harrow and thought about clicking and collecting it there but someone actually bought it (I know right, I was shocked to know someone even got it from around here) so I had to go to Watford to get it.

Aside from the trip I had with someone else after collecting it, when I was at Waterstone’s, I collected the book at the counter and the cashier, who stated it was his first job, was having an argument with one of the staff members there about the book as a topic. He stated he treats all cultures equal but the staff member, which he called a snobby, argued it was encouraging Degenerate Culture, which I will touch up on at the end.
But for staff members in a book store to get so riled up about this book shows just how big of an impact this book actually has on society…

It may be something pretty daft to write about in an art subject but as stupid as this book gets, this book marks an important point towards the progression of photography within the art world and is maybe a change of direction to where photography will go from now on. Kim K may be hated by many but she is an important topic of interest to do with today’s media and entertainment and may inevitably revolutionise the industry with today’s age of interest in such cultures.

The book is big though:

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The size is no joke with 445 pages or so. (Along with the weight good enough to use as paperweight)
Speaking of the size, there is something funny I want to bring up to the table (pun intended) as this book is described as a “coffee table photobook” by DailyMail, which is funny because who would even have the guts to be proud of owning one of these books let alone leaving it on your coffee table so people could loathe over a bunch of selfies from someone that many do worship (which I will discuss about after the book is talked upon).

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A point I planned to bring up in the end of the book discussion will be brought here too. An interesting point towards this so called selfie book is a book on “memories”, which is pretty humorous in that this is in the photography section. Shouldn’t this be better off in the auto-biography section? Who even decided this was a book on photography in the first place? All these important questions not getting an answer out of anything. Shame.

If you don’t want to buy the book yourself, which I really do hope you don’t, you can always watch this video of the whole book this kind soul created:

I wasn’t sure how this topic would be discussed but I decided to split it into sections of interest, picking out some points I want to make about the book in general in terms of it being where the future of photography may end up one day…


Complications from Instagram to a Book

Sure, it may be a minor factor but this factor really annoys me to bits even when other things do this too.
These selfies of Kim K were originally posted just for Instagram and whatnot but with the conversion over to a book, there is opportunity to interpret a photo however you like on a page, even if this means using the whole double spread for that one picture and boy does t look great.

First, I’ll tease you in with this shot that is kinda alright but slightly eck:

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Due to the nature of this book, it being a hardcover book, the pages don’t open fully. In this example, you can see that part of her face is chopped off and you can’t even view the whole article in glory unless you ripped it out, which would be a waste considering I bought it for research purposes and not “research purposes”.
Let’s put that factor up a notch with these other double spread disasters:

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Very unsightly they are.
Just keep to looking at those selfies for free online than buying this misery…
I do have some stuff like this but if you want to show the world about how beautiful you are, please don’t do this sort of thing on a hardcover book, it gives no justice to the photo if your face was literally within the middle of the pages.


Point of Interest

I don’t even swing that way so it’s safe for me but something you do get quite a bit in the book is of shots like these:

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Stating it herself, “Bikini selfies are my favorite!” and maybe it’s because she loves her chest so much she selfies her chest a lot?
It’s very suggesting and it’s as though she wants you to look at her chest even when you know it’s a bad bad thing to do, naughty.

Within the last particular photo, she states that “These are some of my favorite selfies ever…” which again shows just how much she either loves bikinis or her chest. Probably even both in fact.
But with these chest shots, it feels she really deliberately takes it like that but I’ve always wanted to ask why she does that. Like, what’s so special about your two melons?
As I’ve heard someone say before ages ago, “What’s the deal with boobs and why do people lust over them so much? They’re just two slabs of fat put together on your chest.”
The only thing I could think of for Kim K would be that she has pride over her chest and she wants the world to see just how sexy her chest looks compared to her viewers looking at them on the screen.
There’s different things you could say about the chest but I get uncomfortable just looking because my mind is just “I get it, you got two melons so what’s that got to affect with my life right now gurl?”


Hashtag Queen

Well, I don’t know if she’s a Queen at it but what I do know is that many people use hashtags, in the form as #anythinggoeshere, to address a particular thing of interest.
Twitter mainly uses this feature to show what is trending within a certain country so it’s kind of like being informed of something.
Within general usage, people nowadays tend to even say is with something else. I mean, one day in our group, someone actually said hashtag along with whatever came next so it’s actually a big thing in today’s society now.

Within Kim K’s book though, she did use it some times:

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#GymSelfies

If say you were at a certain place and you were taking a selfie and attaching such a tag to it, people will start looking at it and if you were famous, more people may be inclined to try it out.
You do get to see Kim K in the gym and we are under the impression that she is working out. Unfortunately, there’s no footage to even tell if she’s actually there to exercise or not because within the realms of ‘facade’, people would actually go out of their way to get a picture and pretend they’re doing something they’re not. But I’m gonna just Kim K with this one just because she’s a celebrity I couldn’t care less about than what I’m eating this time next year.

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#BoredSelfies

This particular hashtag makes me question.
Like, would your audience even care if you were bored? Would posting a picture with the hashtag all of a sudden make you not bored anymore?
In the end, I just feel she’s bored and just wants people to know she is bored for the sake of it.
The main question I want to ask is, “Is there even any point at all for this selfie?”
It’s kind of sad how you even have to selfie yourself being bored when a lot of her other selfies have more life in them.

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#NoMakeup

This isn’t just a Kim K thing but I feel this is pretty important within the present as well. The fact you even need a tag just to show you’re not wearing makeup. If I remember right, this was discussed just the other day as well with questioning if putting makeup on is a facade in itself or not. Maybe because females do it at such a young age it’s become such a common thing and they don’t think much of it but really, it could be in the same principles of a filter on Snapchat as well.
But nowadays, we live in an age where it would be more weird to see a girl going all out without makeup on than if she had makeup on. It’s kind of sad that girls have to wear makeup in order to reassure themselves that they don’t think they look ugly when going out.
But sometimes, males like no makeup girls so maybe this hashtag could be luring those kind of people to look at her #NoMakeup face.

Speaking of no makeup…

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There was this particular selfie she took that was included and even if it looks like she has no makeup on, which I can’t verify, this is a mark of history for her to mark the trip in Mexico.
Sometimes it would be understandable to take a selfie. She had a tan and had huge sunglasses on whilst she was in Mexico. It is a piece of memory for her.
In terms of holiday shots though…


A Holiday with 90% Kim K and 10% Scenery

When I think holiday photos, I would think photos of scenery that you’d’ve never seen before and are a once in a lifetime thing and are of a whole new different world.
For Kim K and many people, it’s of this same discovery but every single time, you have to be in the picture to mark your place so you can probably show it to others (kinda like those “Wish You Were Here” postcards).

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She says it’s the “prettiest places” she’s been to but it sucks so much that she didn’t even bother sharing her joy with us. All we got were pictures of herself in front of those “pretty” things:

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On the right you can’t even see the waterfall and there it is again with her chest revealing a lot…

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She was kind enough to show this though, even if she were in the photo as well.

And this section made me chuckle a little. She comments on how “hot” it was and how she “loved how the lighting was at this waterfall” but what if she was actually somewhere else in this little collection of selfies?
Sometimes I wonder if there’s any point for these kind of photos on a holiday.
And she also states how “Thailand had the best food, nicest people” and I’m here waiting for pictures on those because I couldn’t care less to see Kim K at Thailand because it’s not like I’m there or that it’ll affect my life but nevertheless I need to calm down a bit again.

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This particular two pages were ridiculous in my opinion.
It’s just of her bathing, which is fine, but the captions talk about what other people are doing so it kinda misses out in some respects to what is even going on. In a way, what she lists seems to be minor things to her if she’s putting those pictures like that.

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My favourite double spread in this book has to be this.
Where someone took a picture of her taking selfies is kinda reminiscent to how our group experiment. The absurdity of this makes it a pretty funny picture to look at like, you see that nice looking scenery at the back? You’re not even taking a picture of it and you’re just taking a picture of yourself.
It’s like the use of photography on this trip was pointless in a way…


Was There Any Point?

I passed by some of the selfies asking myself if there even was any point for some of them to be a thing.

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In the car with Kanye West, she took these selfies and it was during Kanye’s birthday, which is fine because it celebrates it.
But I just love how she needs to document this in a selfie as well. She’s trying to make it look as natural as possible as well, like somebody took it for her and it sort of feels like maybe she’s giving more attention to the phone and where this picture will go than his birthday, which is depressing in itself.

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This particular selfie was interesting because t’s just of two feet.
There are no captions as well to suggest what is going on as well but it’s little things like this that allow it to be used within the book.
Most probably having an important part of her history, even little things like this can say a lot to her.
In terms of the audience though, I feel it misses out on the understanding so I’d feel it’d be pointless to put it in unless you knew Kim K back to front, in and out.


The Black Place

Earlier ago, you would see I wrote that this post contains NSFW and that’s in this black section.
In the picture showing the side of this book, you’ll see that black strip and that is where this section is.

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Some friends read the book before I did, because they had more interest in Kim K, and they told me I’d probably hate this bit and I was like “It can’t be that bad” until I literally saw them out and I flipped the desk.
It takes guts to publish a book with your own chest hanging out but a lot of me feels she has enough ego to do this kind of thing.
She didn’t even think to add these but they were hacked so she did it anyway. It’s a mystery but I feel the meaning of this book could change a little, with the fact you’ve got her chest hanging out and it’s in an obvious black section of the book.

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It’s funny how even a selfie like this she would publish and write something in the caption that is pretty personal as well.
With this black section of the book, I’m kinda scared to even know what people do with this book…


Selective Selfies

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Within the caption, Kim K is glad that a lot of the “embarrassing pics” emailed to her from a best friend “did not make the book” which goes to show this idea of selective selfies. Within this book, Kim K picked out all the selfies she wanted to show everyone who picked up the book.
The fact she even did that is kind of familiar to our group experiment where James was planning on uploading a past selfie he had to Facebook because it looked better than his recent one.
With what she says, it’s like she’s teasing her readers about those “embarrassing pics”.
But the fact we are selective about which selfie to use in anything shows how we care a lot about our appearance to others, hence the action of possibly subconsciously putting on a mask in many cases.


Perfection

There are quite a few pictures with the exact same compositions and whatnot along but in each one, something else is emphasised in it.

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Near the front of the book had this selfie shoot. The top one is completely fine and all of a sudden she takes another one where you can see her chest, again with that idea of her love for her own chest.

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This particular selection wasn’t just putting the camera down a little but also dealt with different compositions, along with her love for her own chest again. In a way, it’s like she’s trying to pose really seductively on purpose.

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Here is the cover shot, which maybe is the ‘perfect’ selfie in her eyes considering it made it on the front cover of the book.
It shows just what her personality is like though with her revealing chest and slightly drenched clothing, which was shot for some promotion I think.

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I like this lot better because she’s not trying hard to be revealing and it’s pretty chic but even Kim K mentions herself, “I was feeling this hat in NYC and had to get the perfect selfie in it.”
Maybe she accomplished it on the selfie on the right?
But the fact even Kim K is talking about the ‘perfect’ selfie is like a comment about people today.
People want to perfect things in order to be prideful of it and show others, whether they care or not. The more ‘perfect’ you are, the more people will fawn over you maybe and we are all looking for this reassurance within social media if you use it too much. Everyone’s ‘perfect’ is different but Kim K is in fact some people’s role model so their ‘perfect’ selfies are probably inspired by Kim K’s selfies in general, which is a bad thing.


Memories

Sure, I was attacking this book a lot but in the end, this is all a bunch of memories for Kim K and for those who are really obsessed with Kim K can know her better by buying this book but this publication is also kinda like a photo album in a sense.

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With the marriage of Kim K and Kanye, it’s a nice ending of the book as not all selfies are just about being a narcissistic bitch but selfies are too a part of memory and can continue on for life, so long as it still exists.
People forget many things so maybe taking selfies will help but I’ll pass on that offer. I’d rather take pictures of that thing than with my face in them.


In the end of the book, I’ve felt like maybe the route photography is taking with selfies is a dangerous move.
As a tutor in the course said before, “Everyone is a photographer because everyone has a phone with a camera on it.”
It’s kind of scary how the future of photography will battle out against what is deemed High Culture and Low Culture.
You could say selfies are Low Culture but living in the present, selfies may end up revolutionising the world without our consent.
In this case of this book, it’s as though you can call Kim K a photographer because literally at the back in the credits reads “All photography and text: Kim Kardashian West” but I’d rather not think of her that way because I consider this book to be a part of Low Culture. Probably even lower than Low Culture if I’m honest about it.

Following on from the topic of an argument at Waterstone’s, an interesting phrase of Degenerate Culture came up and through looking at some rankings of this, I came across a particular one that also included the Kardashians.
Titled under Celebrity Worship Culture, it comes under what is called Celebrity Worship Syndrome, which I bet everyone has even if it was a little percentage of it.
I do too but not excessively that I would die for a celebrity.
CWS is actually not a particularly new thing so I won’t talk much about it but it’s interesting to know that Kim K is worshipped quite a bit and hated a lot. Some of the comments for this book is pretty intense over on the DailyMail article with things like:

  • “Re-releasing a poorly selling book….money troubles? At least she’s not faking a million dollar robbery for the insurance money…oh, wait.”
  • “Kim Kardashian re-releasing completely NAKED pregnant snap in desperate attempt to court more media attention after alleged Fake Jewel Robbery. OMG what’s next?”
  • “Hardly the actions of someone who’s just been in a heist!!”

These particular comments relate to a case in which Kim K was held at gunpoint at a jewellery heist in France.

As I said before, I could give a flying flip about Kim K but I feel she is the Marilyn Monroe of the present but not in a good way.
This book is an interesting talking point about what contemporary art even is anymore. In my opinion, I think this movement is kinda ridiculous. A celebrity releasing a book on her selfies that you can see online for free but you have to pay for the book. I’m gonna agree with the rest of the online community and saying it’s just rubbish.
It doesn’t belong in the photography section and it’s kind of the same as watching reality TV shows along those lines of “Keeping Up with The Kardashians”.
The selfie may be the now, but I think it would be dangerous if books came out like Kim K’s “Selfish”. You would then argue that any ol’ Joe could just create a book like that then.

But within our project, the selfie is an important aspect towards society now in terms of it being considered an art or not.
With its links towards social media, studying Kim K’s “Selfish” (and criticising it) made me think more about the ‘perfect’ selfie and the countless things we think about to impress others.
Kim K being an extremely narcissistic example of this, I guess that’s just where social media stands alongside the prideful selfie and Kim K is the prime example of this degenerated culture.

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