A study of the selfie phenomenon

The project investigates the seemingly mundane topic of selfies with a mix of techniques, ranging from theory over quantitive analysis to visualization and artistic expression. In this highly interdisciplinary project, I had the creative lead for design, data visualization and data analysis.

Produced in collaboration with Lev Manovich, Dominikus Baur, Daniel Goddemeyer, Daniel Mehrdad et al.

Exploring selfies as a cultural phenomenon

Selfiecity investigates how people photograph themselves with mobile phones in five cities around the world. The project analyzes 3200 Instagram selfies shared in New York, Moscow, Berlin, Bangkok, and Sao Paulo (640 from each city).

Selfies were already subject of many discussions in popular media. However, if we simply scan images tagged as selfie on Instagram, or observe people around us taking self-portraits, it’s hard to quantify patterns, or systematically compare selfies from multiple cities taken by people who differ in age and gender. Are all selfies taken by young people? Do men take many selfies? Are we all trying to copy celebrities in choosing how we represent ourselves? Are there any significant differences between selfies shared in New York and Moscow, or Berlin and Bangkok? Selfiecity is the first project which investigates such questions systematically, using carefully assembled large sample of selfies photos and tools of statistics, data science and data visualization.

The selfexploratory

The interactive selfiexploratory allows you to navigate the whole set of 3200 photos from five cities from around the world.


Rich media visualizations (imageplots) assemble thousands of photos to reveal interesting patterns.


We also present new findings about the demographics of people taking selfies, their poses and expressions.

Video montages

Video montages assemble hundreds of images into a dynamic, morphing “aggregate city face”.

Read a few more of my thoughts on the projects over at well-formed data