2013

Urban Exotic

I’m using Instagram in the wrong way.

Of course, I don’t really believe that there is a wrong way, but I’m certainly not using it in the populous way that gets someone 2k followers.

In my particular circle and among the people I follow, Instagram is intended to be a snapshot of what one is doing or witnessing at that very moment.  I’ve noticed that no one really gives a shit about #ThrowBackThursday or #FlashbackFriday and no one cares about your #latergram. It’s about the #now.

Since all Instagram photos are assembled into profiles in succinct rows of three, the profile kind of becomes a salon-style exhibition of what someone values about what they do with their lives, which can look pretty dismal if all they post is the stupid graffiti they see on their way to work, selfies on a Friday, and images of their cat yawning.

When you look at someone’s Instagram, you gather ideas about them that aren’t based on specific images, but on the collective: the overall color palette, the amount of negative space, the number of faces, whether the images are mostly indoors/outdoors/daytime/nighttime, the richness of the saturation, whether they use filters, blah blah blah. It becomes a WORLD of images–our world.

People can interpret a lot about our lives through these photos.  Rather than thinking about how we project our world to others, I think it’s important to consider how Instagram informs our world.

If I’m being honest, I check my Instagram in the morning before I even check the news.  What I see on my feed lets me know what’s happening in New York and in cities and hamlets around the world RIGHT THEN AT THAT VERY MOMENT.  They’re snapshots–they’re idealistic and straightforward (ie: pool parties, picnics, images of a sunset, artfully constructed images of architecture…) but most of the time, ninety-nine percent of the time, they’re not particularly imaginative or artful.  I think Instagram should have more imagination and I think we should play with how it informs our lives.

Instagram affords us the ability to mock how people perceive us by intentionally deceiving them. While that may be a bit juvenile, why should the truth of our lives be recorded in rows of 3 and valued by how many people “like” it and how many of those people choose to be our “followers”? Is the point of Instagram truth?  I don’t think so at all. I think the popularity of Instagram is rooted somewhere close to deception and the bending of the truth. It’s about showcasing an image.

I’d like to augment what we’re already doing, which is idealizing our lives for the enjoyment of others, and create my own Instagram utopia to inform others in a different way.

Currently, I’m obsessed with superimposing exotic animals and jungle creatures into my photos. I use it as a way to keep in mind that there are still monkeys swinging from trees and lions hunting for food and whales singing in the ocean while I run around New York City like my life depends on it.  It’s a small way to transcend the urban environment and it’s a way to remind myself that crazy, violent, colorful, wild, wild, wildlife is thriving somewhere just beyond my zone of focus.

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There’s obviously contrast, because octopus don’t belong in the sky above the Empire State Building, but there is also inclusion by placing them in familiar cityscapes.

I want to think about parrots flying around somewhere and I also want people who follow me on Instagram to think about parrots.  I want parrots to interrupt the concrete and the glass they see all day. Maybe the gravity of our stressful and messy lives will buoy if, while we scroll through our Instagram feed during lunch, we are made to think of a hippo swimming around doing hippo things.

In my personal experience, just today a rhinoceros took the edge off the heavy decision making process involved with purchasing a houseplant.

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