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The Exceptional and the Everyday: 144 hours in Kyiv

“The Exceptional and the Everyday: 144 hours in Kyiv” is the first project to analyze the use of Instagram during a social upheaval. Using computational and data visualization techniques, we explore 13,208 Instagram images shared by 6,165 people in the central area of Kyiv during 2014 Ukrainian revolution (February 17 - February 22, 2014). Together with Jay Chow, Alise Tifentale, and Mehrdad Yazdani, with an essay by Elizabeth Losh.

Over a few days in February 2014, a revolution took place in Kyiv, Ukraine. How was this exceptional event reflected on Instagram? What can visual social media tell us about the experiences of people during social upheavals?

If we look at images of Kyiv published by many global media outlets during the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, the whole city is reduced to what was taking place on its main square. On Instagram, it looks different. The images of clashes between protesters and the police and political slogans appear next to the images of the typical Instagram subjects. Most people continue their lives. The exceptional co-exists with the everyday. We saw this in the collected images, and we wanted to communicate it in the project.

“The Exceptional and the Everyday: 144 hours in Kyiv” continues previous work with visual social media carried out by our lab Software Studies Initiative, such as:

Phototrails (2013), analysis and visualization of 2.3 million Instagram photos in 14 global cities,
Selfiecity (2014), comparison between 3,200 selfies shared in six cities; collaboration with Moritz Stefaner.

In the current project we specifically focus on the content of images, as opposed to only their visual characteristics. We also explore non-visual data that accompanies the images: most frequent tags, the use of English, Ukrainian, and Russian languages, dates and times when images their shared, and their geo-coordinates.

Project  2014