The selfie – a phenomenon that perhaps best exemplifies the cultural shift caused by mobile technology – has landed people in hot water. It’s even claimed lives. There is a Wikipedia page that provides an extensive list of deaths caused by individuals or groups posing to take photos of themselves in dangerous settings.
A recent incident at the 14th Factory gallery in Los Angeles has underscored selfies’ potential for disaster. While no one was injured, a woman taking a photo of herself leaned into pedestal, knocking it over and causing a domino effect that destroyed priceless sculptures on view as part of an exhibit featuring the work of artist Simon Birch.
The catastrophic moment of digital narcissism was caught on CCTV and uploaded to Youtube.
There is – however – speculation that this could have been a stunt. The video was uploaded by a friend of Birch, and such a performative component to an exhibition would hardly be the first. In fact, the exhibit has received a tremendous amount of press following the destruction, which could have been the point all along.
Perhaps we’ll never know the truth. But if it was truly an accident, it may be the most expensive selfie ever taken.