"Photographs clip out instants in time, and since we see in overlapping moments and usually base our sense of a person on a fluid sequence of moments and motions, a single photograph can often seem wrong." (James Elkins, The Object Stares Back)
The overarching impact of an application like Instagr.am on our psyche and its affect on social and cultural networks, is that every part of our lives becomes extremely stylized and calculated. Supposedly serendipitous moments are in fact culled, posed and manipulated. Life is only ready to be shared after a lengthy process that involves contemplating the likeability or controversy of an image - will it incite interaction? It is our personal MTV reality show playing out in stills. While not scripted, there is a narrative we act according to and thus visualize when crafting and contributing to an Instagr.am profile. It is our personal exhibit, but unlike a museum or gallery the execution is often crude and the perspective more than a little biased.
A moment like breakfast is no longer spent or recorded in situ but rather editorialized for a photo that will hopefully garner as many likes and comments as possible. We live mini existential crises or possibly just epiphanies throughout a day, brought on I think oftentimes by an anticipation that surrounds our actions in the social digital sphere. Our movements and intentions are much more deliberate than our conscious self often perceives and as a result, each action of sharing also carries with it a touch of anxiety or fear, glee or triumph.
There are two basic perspectives at play here - that of the image poster and the image viewer (I’m oversimplifying massive amounts of philosophy on vision and visuality here obviously for the sake of brevity). As there is no such thing as just looking, as Instagr.am feeds a kind of spectatorship akin to a cinematic experience, there is also no such thing as just posting. There is a hunt for serendipity and composition that I find fascinating. We are no longer simply imbibing and then photographically recycling actual experience. Now we arbitrarily construct our lives according to how it can be captured through a lens for exhibition.
Whether or not it is obvious to us at the time, using our digital tools, we curate and order our lives. As a result, the expectation is one of immediate gratification. We cling to the admiration of the images we portray in very neat and strict ways. Taking a picture, filtering or enhancing it’s natural realities, and posting it for a list of friends and often strangers is not just art it’s vanity, and it’s our small attempt to make an impression on the world.