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Instagram and Contemporary Image

This first in-depth study of Instagram by Lev Manovich combines methods from art history, media studies, and data science, and draws on computational analysis of 16 million Instagram photos shared in 17 global cities since 2012. The data collection and analysis were performed in Manovich's Cultural Analytics Lab in the Qualcomm Institute (UCSD Division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology).

The four parts of the book were written between 12/20/2015 and 12/26/2016 and posted online as they were completed. The final version available as a single PDF combines revised versions of these chapters, an Introduction (written in 08/2017 - essentially it is a new chapter), and an Appendix. It was released in 09/2017.

The earlier versions of 4 book parts:

All text is available under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Creative Commons license.


Millions of people around the world today use digital tools and platforms to create and share sophisticated cultural artifacts. This book focuses on one such platform: Instagram. It places Instagram image culture within a rich cultural and historical context, including history of photography, cinema, graphic design, and social media, contemporary design trends, music video, and k-pop. At the same it uses Instagram as a window into the identities of first truly global generation connected by common social media platforms, programming languages, and visual aesthetics. The book demonstrates how humanistic close reading and computational analysis of large datasets can work together by drawing on the work in Manovich's Cultural Analytics Lab with 16 million Instagram photos shared in 17 large cities worldwide since 2012.

Book  2017