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News Bite: Alum Brooke Wendt’s New Book Investigates the Social Phenomenon of ‘The Selfie’

Posted October 31, 2014 in AlumniNews BitesPhotography

Photography alum Brooke Wendt has been on an interesting journey since graduating from KCAD in 2010. A chance encounter at a graduate portfolio review in Chicago led Wendt out West to Pacific Northwest College of Art to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Critical Theory and Creative Research – a decidedly different track from the creative act of composing, taking, and editing photographs.

Thanks to the program’s accelerated approach, Wendt completed her degree in 2013, just one year after she began. Looking back, she couldn’t be happier with her decision.

“The program was very challenging,” she said. “There was a ton of just reading, thinking, and writing. We were reading theory, and doing a lot of work with analyzing images, which is very different from taking pictures – just as rigorous, but in a very different way.”

For her graduate thesis, Wendt used philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s theory that people eventually become numb to their self-image as a basis for investigating the social phenomenon of ‘the selfie.’ After submitting her thesis, Wendt spent a year refining it, and now, her research has been published by the Institute of Network Cultures under the title “The Allure of the Selfie: Instagram and the New Self Portrait.”

cover of alum Brooke Wendt's bookfront cover of “The Allure of the Selfie: Instagram and the New Self Portrait"

“I’m interested in how people see themselves and how the camera communicates that to them,” said Wendt. “The selfie seemed like the best type of image to use in investigating the notion of how the camera influences the perception of self.”

Wendt’s research focuses on how advertisements show consumers how to use the cameras, and what kind of behavior stems from that; how people take selfies (their expressions, poses, settings, etc.); how the popular filter functions change our perception of these images; and how hashtags and social media influence the way we share these images with others.

In addition to being a published author, Wendt has parlayed her balance of creative and analytical skills into a flourishing career as a freelance design strategy researcher.

“When working for clients, I examine adjacent industries, look at consumer perspectives on a topic, and explore the various entry points into a market,” she said. “It’s a way to vet client objectives and examine them from various angles.”

You can order a copy of “The Allure of the Selfie: Instagram and the New Self-Portrait” for free by clicking here.