Nowadays everyone is a photographer. People post pictures of their life or pictures about the world around them. A glass reflecting the sunlight. A dog eating watermelon, people laughing out loud, an abandoned building. There are many situations where we try to turn what we see into framed moments. And it is through these visual fragments that we build up narratives in this digital kaleidoscope called Instagram.
Like all social networks, Instagram places the world, you and me side by side revealing the details of everyday lives that were until now very distant from our reality. Such are the cases of President Obama’s daily routine – posted by the White House chief photographer – and the famous Ellen DeGeneres selfie at the 2014 Oscar’s. Two huge icons of down the path of personal exposure.
Brands have also taken advantage of this new scenario to build one more channel of interaction where they can showcase their essence (and their products of course) to potenial costumers. A great example of it is Louis Vuitton, which for the past 3 seasons has been offering a great behind the scenes of the brand’s creative process on Instagram.
There`s nothing new here. Understanding the possibilities of Instagram’s connections isn’t exactly a breakthrough. But it seems wise to look on the ways that Instagram and art are mashing up and creating new possibilities, interpretations and interactions. The curator of Serpentine, Hans Ulrich Obrist is very enthusiastic about this combination. To show the duality of handwriting in the touchscreen era, he has been using Instagram as an extension of his art project “Handwritten Notes”.
The work of visual artist Richard Prince is another good example of digital life and artistic creation coming together. His installation “New Portraits” was at Gagosian and then at Frieze showcasing photos from Instagram profiles other than his own. The only change made by him was altering the photo’s subtitles. His art was sold for a substantial amount, arousing the anger of those who had their photos “stolen”. Controversy aside, the project became more popular and is now landing in London.
These developments lately have been drawing more and more attention and people now starting to analyse and discuss social data. A panel entitled “Instagram as an Artistic Medium” was held at last year’s Miami Art Basel with the presence of Obrist who’s a well known art curator, critic and art historian. Kevin Systrom, CEO and Instagram’s co-founder was also on the panel and stated: “Our mission is to capture all the world’s moments, but our core value is to inspire creativity”.
The most important thing in all this context is to pay attention to the way people have been experiencing the app: more than just a new media for sharing and developing new art projects and forms, Instagram invites us to exercise our vision in order to reveal our thoughts. A social network of personal narratives if you like.
This was the main point of The NewYorker article about the valorization of old and gone objects and graphic icons from the past on Instagram’s profiles. The text points out the resemblance of the content in some profiles and brings examples of brands that have also picked up similar references. The question here is: Who is influencing who?
Dave Krugman, a social editor from New York, formed a few partnerships with relevant cultural institutions. All because of the content he generates and spreads on Instagram. His beautiful pictures and his extent list of followers/influencers allowed him to cooperate with the Metropolitan in order to qualify the museum’s content on Instagram. Free of charge. With the #emptymet project Krugman and his friends have been visiting the museum during its closing hours so they can share their own take on Met’s installations. As a result, the museum’s Instagram had a considerable traffic growth.
It’s good to keep an eye on these guys who have been adjusting the focus and joining new angles , cuts ,overlays and collages. Non- artists (Non?) with a sharp eye of their own view using the app in a broader way. Further than selfies (because we are all human after all), they register aspects of daily life composing a singular, narrative and artistic view of the world surrounding them.
And just like that, almost accidentally, we continue observing the everyday, sharing thoughts and crating art on Instragram. That’s why it is interesting to start thinking about the app as a tool for expression and behaviour. As a curatorship platform. And I’m not talking about an information flux that comes from brands to costumers: it comes from Instagrammers to the world. These narratives can influence the study (and creation) of new patterns, tendencies and movements because they contain real, genuine and authentic content. That`s why, before choosing what filter to use, you should bring your own take to Instragram.
~some nice profiles to follow~
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