Instagram As Art

This comprehensive report, “Digital Natives With a Cause?” by Nishant Shah and Sunil Abraham attempts to defend the best intentions of digital natives and seeks to contribute to the current lack of academic literature about the identity of Generation Y. We are described as “without agency, solipsistic, and hedonistic, thus dismissing his cultural interactions and processes as trivial, and implying he lives for indulgent consumption and personal gratification.” The constant criticism is heard quite clearly and remains ringing surprisingly well within our young ears for a generation supposedly diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. We’ve managed to utilize digital communicative technologies to expose ourselves on the Internet and place our vulnerable selves onto mainstream pedestals for all to see. Children are finally being seen as well as heard and the adults don’t like it. I appreciate Shah and Abraham’s efforts to support us digital natives and to even perceive the complexity of digital natives as an area that demands imperative research.

Despite all the self-gratification we digital natives like to indulge in through likes and comments on social media platforms, we are actually left insecure about ourselves due to a lack of acceptance from our main role models, the adult community. Powerless, self-centered, and self-indulgent are stereotypes we’ve been sentenced to bear upon our identities. Even when young artists take initiative to challenge social media and disprove the illusion of an absent-minded generation, their efforts are dismissed and satirized. The Vice article features an Instagram artist who constructed a pseudo-representation of herself through her posts in an attempt to, “reproduce[d] our obsession with self­-branding to show that we don’t present ourselves through Instagram, we create selves through Instagram, using a series of cultural and material markers of identity.” The artist, Amalia Ulman, even titled this performance as “Excellences and Perfections” and follows this movement of post-Internet artists like Ryder Ripps who seek to “unsettle our comfortable relationship with technology.” Vice, a cultural source produced mainly by digital natives, diminishes the significance of Ulman’s performance, ending the article on a sneering, sarcastic note. I can understand on both ends, why Vice treats this artist as someone lesser than a traditional performer as well as why Ulman’s performance remains so intriguing and casts a point. What I do not exactly understand is where this contradiction emerges from. Digital natives themselves seem to be walking paradoxes, embracing technological growth at one point and attacking those who provoke it the next.

4 thoughts on “Instagram As Art

  1. sofreshsteph

    I like what you mention about us being a paradox… it’s like we hate and admire the same thing.

    I think it would have been interesting if she made two accounts…. and one was more “true” to who she really is and what she really likes… than what she knows other people like

    that would have been interesting to see

  2. natalypalma

    My friend recently told me about this artist and her performance. I am certainly guilty of thinking at first what a strange performance piece. But overall I think it is very innovative for artist to use social media to comment on it directly.

  3. ErikaFriesenN

    This piece to me if pretty awesome because of the paradox. The idea of being a digital native I feel is something you love to hate. Yes we use technology for good, but we we also us it for bad. That but between good and bad in the previous sentence is the reason that digital natives get a bad rep from an older community. The struggle to be accepted by an older generation has brought us to seek self gratification within our own community instead to feel a sense of acceptance.

  4. samanthaong

    I’m seeing the same trend with photography- I have a couple of friends who are really into it, and one in particular who frowns upon people who do not use their phone cameras for their Instagram pictures (i.e. they use a dslr then upload it to Instagram). But why the assumption that the products of the app should be limited through the lens it was created for? I think the contradiction lies in people disagreeing what technology can reasonably be used for- and because this is shaped not only by a common ethic but our own culture and habits, there is no unified way in which to respond to alternative uses of Instagram. This hence leads to some regarding Instagram art as art, and others dismissing it.

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