Instagram gratification is no substitute for art
“Instagram? More like Wait-a-long-time-a-gram” I say loudly, grinning at my own wit. My girlfriend stares back at me in her usual way. The I’m-still-working-out-if-I-actually-like-you look.
The photo I took on my phone of the sun setting over Port Phillip Bay is still taking its time to load. I am, at best, a fleeting social media user. I jump on the bandwagon late and then get bored after two weeks. I just lose Pinterest.
Instagram is my latest foray. Already bored with Twitter, this ‘app’ quickly appeals to my sense of cant-be-bothered-saying-anything-clever-ness. Let the picture do the talking. I don’t even have to go through the effort of reading silly and inane updates about people’s day to day lives. Rather than read about it I get to live it visually. Instagram is the realm of newly painted nails, plates of food, animals and sunsets all processed through multiple filters and fast becoming cliché.
There are times, although not very often, when someone posts an image that really impresses you, but the sad reality is that you can tell where the reality begins and where it ends. Applications like Instagram are just another poo in the face of “real” photography.
As SLR Cameras become more and more popular we have seen a surge in the hobbyist photographer. Digital photography allows us not only to instantly view the images we have taken but also immediately edit and alter them. Journalistically this is invaluable. Artistically it is depressing.
Gone are the days of black and white gelatin prints, hours in the dark room, the smell of chemicals and manually balancing your needle thingy in between the thing. You rarely see a photographer that does not immediately take a photo and then look at the display screen to see how it turned out. What happened to the excitement, the anticipation that comes with not knowing what you’ve got until you develop that negative?
Then we enhance the images in the computer, until we are left with a shadow of the original product. It gets to the point where we ignore the subject of a photograph because so much of it is fabricated and unbelievable. If all our photographs are enhanced, how do we sort the real, truly great images, from the fake? In the digital world we cant. It just isn’t real. Why oh why didn’t I take the blue pill?
But what is the “art” in photography? Is it the subject, the composition or the processing?
Artistically I’d argue that it is all three. But taking a picture of your dinner at the right angle, blurring the edges and making it look vintage isn’t going to get you an exhibition in the Guggenheim.
Webster’s Dictionary defines photography as; the art of taking a photograph. Don’t quote me on that. Define art? I don’t even know anymore - Art is what society decides it is. What would you think if you went to an exhibition of photos taken on phones and processed by Instagram? Would you be impressed with the images, or would you feel cheated, like the artist hasn’t done enough work?
Perhaps if the work was displayed on 50 iphones and hung around the walls you could call it a poignant commentary on photography in the modern world. Shit. I could be the next Warhol. But for now, I’ll have to make do with a mere 50 followers and a beautiful sunset.
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