Subjects and Styles in Instagram Photography (Part 1)
This is the first part of Lev Manovich's book "Instagram and Contemporary Image." All book parts are being published on manovich.net as they are completed during 2016.
Text: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Creative Commons license. Images copyright belongs to their respective authors.
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 also demonstrates how humanistic close reading and computational analysis of large datasets can work together by drawing on the work in Manovich's lab with 16 million Instagram photos shared in 17 large cities worldwide since 2012.
The first part explains why Instagram platform is perfect for studying contemporary photography; discusses the importance of differences in content and style in photos shared in different locations worldwide, and then analyzes the "casual" photo type. The majority of Instagram photos shared until now belong to this type. Casual photos are similar in function to personal photographs in the 20th century. Created for friends, they privilege content and mostly ignore the aesthetics.