Instafame (Book)

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 decade following its launch. It traces the connections between graffiti, street art and Instagram, arguing that social media's battle for a viewer's attention is closely aligned with eye-catching unsanctioned public art. 


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 scholar of graffiti, street art and digital culture, best known for pioneering research methods that mix genres, images and data. He is currently an associate professor at the MIECAT Institute in Melbourne, Australia.


Chapter One: Introduction: The Instagram Era

Chapter Two: Graffiti and Street Art

Chapter Three: Global Media Histories

Chapter Four: The Architecture of Instagram

Chapter Five: The Streets on Instagram

Chapter Six: Instagram on the Streets

Chapter Seven: The Top 100

Chapter Eight: Conclusion: The Death of Instagram

'By characterizing graffiti and street art as 'flexible aesthetic features', MacDowall binds the latter to media forms, thus creating a feedback loop between digitally influenced practices of graffiti and street art and Instagram’s digital platform, supporting his claim that ours is an Instagram era. [...] The book offers a well-synthesized review of the various scholarly theses on graffiti and street art as well as an insightful history of its photography.'

Nicholas Hardy, Space and Culture
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