The Instagram War


General Culture, General Photography

I’m tired of talking about Instagram, but it seems these days you can’t get away from it. John Edwin Mason just published a very good piece about the use of Instagram in the war between Israel and Hamas. With the US news media’s unquestioning embrace of Instagram, the photo app was bound to pop up as a tool for unmediated propaganda. What’s interesting here is that in the art world more and more people are now talking about how the flood of images requires smart curation or editing for things to make sense. In the world of the news, the current development points in the very opposite direction: Let the people see all that stuff and try to make sense of it themselves! (this is usually phrased as either “Give the people what the people want” or as “Democratize photography”) On his Tumblr, Darren Campion explains why this poses a huge problem: “we often find ourselves without the means to determine a (non-photographic) context in which to ‘anchor’ a given image.” Which allows us, to take this a bit further, to anchor an image any which way we want - you basically see what you want to believe. And with social media, you can make sure you really only see what you want to see: you follow the people who post the pictures that confirm your view and let all the other ones fall by the wayside.