Selfie Rats

Augustin Lignier 2021

Based on the experimental analysis of behavior developed by psychologist Dr. Burrhus Frederic Skinner in the 1950s, Selfies Rat deploys a three-stage experiment with a group of rodents. Trained with a sugar distribution system connected to a camera, a group of rats produces images of themselves by interacting with the photographic apparatus. At first driven by the trained compulsion to eat sugar, they eventually just playfully snap pictures. By echoing addictive behavior engineered by social media companies to keep users captive, Lignier humorously addresses what cultural theorist Yves Citton calls ecology of attention, a coercive system, which commodifies our attentiveness with a mechanism based on sheer pleasure.