Graffiti and Street Art in the Instagram Era
Instafame charts the impact of Instagram - one of the world's most popular social media platforms - on visual culture in the mere eight years since its launch. MacDowell traces the intuitive connections between graffiti, street art and Instagram, arguing that social media's unending battle for a viewer's attention is closely aligned with eye-catching ethos of unsanctioned public art. Beginning with the observation that the scroll of images on a sideways phone screen resembles nothing so much as graffiti seen through the windows of a moving train, Macdowell moves outward to give us a wide-ranging look at how Instagram has already effected a dramatic shift in the making and viewing of street art.
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Launched in 2010 as a modest mobile photo-sharing application for Apple’s iPhone that uploads images in a square format and add filters that mimic vintage photographs, Instagram has grown to become one of the most-used social media platforms, alongside Facebook and Twitter. This book examines the rise of Instagram and its impact on visual culture by considering how it has shaped two inter-related and highly popular global forms: graffiti and street art. The book traces the intuitive connections between graffiti, street art and Instagram, beginning with the simple observation that when turned on its side, the scrolling feed of Instagram images displayed on a mobile phone resembles graffiti viewed from the windows of a moving train. It argues that with Instagram’s privileging of flows of images tied to mobile devices and the real-time battles for impact and attention that this generates, is more closely synced with the aesthetics of graffiti and street art and the needs of its producers and consumers than any other digital platforms. It analyses the architecture, data, networks and audiences of Instagram, showing how they underpin a dramatic shift in how graffiti and street art are produced and consumed.
Dr Lachlan MacDowall is a researcher based at the University of Melbourne, Australia. His research examines modes of urban informality such as graffiti and street art. He has published widely in this area and works closely with artists, local governments, heritage agencies and galleries.