Instagram is a rather new phenomenon. Whether it lasts or morphs into something altogether different is a question best answered by considering the rise and fall of MySpace, so for the moment, let’s just assume it’s a transient facility that allows individuals to share their perspective with the world, with the world.
Existentialism in Images
An image is a snapshot stolen in time. An image slices the fabric of the time-space continuum with a butcher’s knife, presenting the viewer with a single image of just one perspective of what was at the time, perspectiveless – it was existence, and of no meaning before that cut of the knife. If we accept as a given the impossibility of capturing a moment in its entirety then we must accept this slice as nothing more than an attempt to do so, and nothing more than that. An image cannot transmit the odour, the temperature, the texture, the taste or the multiplicity of human and societal perspectives that existed at the moment in which the picture was taken. Perhaps this is the difference between a photographer’s print, and a casual snapshot – the photographer understands the existentialist idea, and attempts to be ‘aware’. To conceptualise the elements of the whole that they are focussed on, and interested in. To include this or exclude that. To change the angle from which the picture is framed, to alter the depth of field to highlight this or blur that. The photographer is focussing on what it is about the moment that gives their intended viewer an existence within that image – which contrasts so vividly with the ambivalence of the casual snapshot to concepts such as spatial awareness, colour, light, tone, composition, depth-of-field, inclusions and exclusions. And yet… And yet images do not have to invoke anything at all. If Oscar Wilde and Andy Warhole are correct – and all art is useless – then an image is at its best when it is devoid of purpose or use. So here are some images.
Notes and Further Reading:
- Oscar Wilde “All art is quite useless”. Patrick Duggan has an excellent article on the deeper meaning of this comment here: http://www.bu.edu/writingprogram/journal/past-issues/issue-1/duggan/
- Andy Warhole was rather fond of appearing blasé about his art, so perhaps the ‘snapshot’ is quite close to an artform under his definitions?: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Warhol