Instagram as art

As a rule of thumb, before attempting to evaluate something, it's always a good idea to define that "something".  Attempts to define art have been made for centuries. Some of these attempts are very serious and thorough, such as Leo Tolstoy's "What is Art?" essay, which was written in 1896--40 excerpts of its main points can be found here for your enjoyment (no, really, it's quite interesting).  For this reason I'm declaring this article a deformity from the start--to avoid any disappointment from anyone stumbling upon it.  We simply will not be able to provide a black and white definition of what art really is.  Having said that, there are still many interesting points to address regarding this topic.

There is a plethora of art styles usually created by applying boundaries and rules and flexing within those rules, making the enclosure resonate as an instrument.  Instagram is one of these art styles.  Instagram is similar to Polaroid photography in the sense that its output format is limited.  On Instagram you are limited to a quadrilateral image with standard resolution no matter what your input is. Instagram ingeniously provides limitations, but also leaves the doors open to flexibility.  For instance, Instagram is geared towards live content, but also allows you to upload older content from you image library, so it doesn't necessarily have to be live. This has lead many artists on Instagram to specifically point out if all of their images are uploaded live or not.  This is very important for people whose content revolves around traveling and live events.  Take for instance this image from the article "Instagram – acceptable art form?" which is dramatically more impactful when one realizes it was snapped in a live war zone.

However, not all perspectives on Instagram are so positive.  Some people argue that Instagram may be ruining the art of photography: Is Instagram Ruining The Art Of Photography?.  And then there is the commercialization of Instagram, such as this new app that turns your Instagram pics into nail art, which doesn't help Instagram achieve the classy artistique value some hopelessly expect. The ease with which Instagram can be accessed and exploited are just some of the reasons that make it so easy to ridicule, as it is done in this Instagram Museum of Modern Art sketch.

What I have found, however, is that Instagram is not just digital photography, or photo-sharing over a social network, so it is unlike anything we've ever seen before, yet everything we have seen combined and tweaked.  People are increasingly using Instagram to create a representation of themselves and their life, which they can refer to as art. It is an extended hyper-hybrid digital diary-log-selfie, now with video.  This means that the extent to which Instagram can be considered art is highly dependent on the artist him/herself.

But back to my original question: is Instagram art? Well, if you took some time to read Tolstoy's essay and mixed-in your own opinion you might arrive at a conclusion similar to mine: art is any action or creation aimed at invoking a reaction of feelings in other individuals.  However, even this simple definition has its gray areas, such as: if you never plan on revealing a specific art piece, is it still art? Or what about generative art? Anyway, Is Instagram a legitimate art form, I say yes.

art, web/tek

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