Tuesday, 28 January 2014

TUESDAY NEWS DAY: INSTAGRAM GETS A MUSEUM

BY: BRITTNEY SPROULE

Hi all! So we here at musings decided to switch things up a bit. Instead of having two hearty helpings of blog posts for Museum Mondays, we moved the museum news posts on over to Tuesdays. News...rhymes with...Tues...you see our logic. Anyway, Museum Mondays and Tuesday News blog posts will still be interchangeably brought to you by Ms. Jeffery and myself, so do not fret. NOW. Time for some cultural current events!

INSTAGRAM GETS A MUSEUM, AND WE GET A WINDOW TO THE WORLD

Instagramers Gallery Homepage

This week I came across an intriguing article from earlier in January about something called the Instagramers Gallery. Essentially, the Instagramers Gallery is "an open, democratic online gallery, devoid of the terms "followers" or "followed," where people could access any image and users could share their talent with the world, displaying their work in a place where it can be appreciated and awarded solely on the quality and originality of their photos" (Instagramers Gallery, "About"). What's more, and what really peaked my interest, is the fact that the Instagram gallery concept has been developed into a physical museum, located in the Wynwood arts district of Miami. Thus far, this is the only gallery in the world devoted to "Instagram art," featuring the photography of "renowned Instagramers" from all over the world.

Physical Instagramers Gallery space in Miami

I shan't ruin the fun of letting you read the above article and check out the online Instagramers Gallery (or the physical one, I don't know how much free time you have for these things...) for yourself with a lengthy summary, but I will share with you a few thoughts that popped into my mind whilst contemplating this particular museum.

First of all, for someone like me who refuses to sign up for Instagram (not that I am against those who have it, I just can't be bothered to take photos on a daily basis. What I'm saying is, I'm too lazy for Instagram), the online gallery open for public viewing is great! The only kicker is, if you wish to vote on pictures or upload your own, you do have to log in. However, while having this publicly accessible online gallery is indeed convenient for leisurely perusal, is it really necessary to have an online gallery devoted to, well, an online gallery-esq application for sharing photos? At least having a physical gallery space throws a new dimension into the mix for Instagram, but I'm not sure I'm totally sold on the online Instagram exhibition idea. Perhaps some of you Instagram aficionados out there can shed some light on the merits of the online Instagramer Gallery for me. What does it offer that the Instagram application does not already?

Photo courtesy of Instagramers Gallery artist @handesemercioglu

Maybe, just maybe, it all comes down to that lovely term and concept of "curation" that we here in museum studies like to pick apart and debate at length. Are the Instagramers Galleries, both online and physical, curated to convey a particular message or purpose with their photo collections and selections that the Instagram application alone lacks? Are members of the public to be considered the curators in this case?

In the same vein, what does a physical Instagram gallery space offer that an online gallery does not, apart from the fact you actually have to visit the space? Is it worth a jaunt to a gallery space when you can just view your favourite Instagram photos on your own Instagram account which you've selected, or dare I say, "curated", based on your own interests? For the record, I am genuinely asking these questions and opening the floor for discussion!

Photo courtesy of Instagramers Gallery artist @paty_guerra

As a final note (or four or five), you may have also noticed earlier that I put the terms "Instagram art" and "renowned Instagramers" in quotations. This is because I couldn't help but wonder...are Instagram photos art? Certainly there are some exceptionally beautiful photos uploaded to Instagram on a daily basis and certainly photography is considered an art form in our modern museums and galleries. My question, then, is how do we judge which Instagram photos are artistic and which are just pictures of kittens or food? Do we use the same criteria to judge these types of photos as we would say, in a professional photography exhibition in a gallery? Also, how do Instagramers become "renowned"? Is it simply the people who get the most views or hits on Instagram or is there more to what an "Instagram artist" does that separates them from the rest? Is the very allure of being an "Instagram artist" the fact that anyone with Instagram can hold this title?

Photo courtesy of Instagramers Gallery artist @madtias

I think that's enough questioning for one day on my part. This felt like Inception for photo galleries. I certainly welcome your responses or further inquiries into the above discussion! As I said, I would love to know what avid Instagramers think of all of this. Of course, I welcome feedback from my fellow non-Instagramers as well. No judgement here :)
Enjoy!

6 comments:

  1. Great post Brittney! You brought up some very interesting ideas. I couldn't help but reflect on the judgement process and how "renowned Instagramers" were selected. Do they validate such recognition because they have many followers who constantly "like" all of their photos? Or should they be judged based on the artistic quality of their work? Where does this leave professional photographers, considering anyone can capture and manipulate flawless photographs with their devices. These circumstances reminds me of the emergence of photography and the shift in painting style. If photographic technology hadn't progressed further, who knows if the Impressionists would have existed.

    Also, you just had to include a pineapple picture...couldn't help yourself...

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  2. "the Inception of photo galleries" lovely! This was really interesting Brittney. I think it is almost ironic that a physical gallery exists for a digital phenomenon. "Renowned" instagrammers sounds so exclusive, and maybe even exclusionary? I want to know everything about this gallery! Who thought it up? Where did the capital come from?

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  3. Great post, Brittany. I find the idea of an Instagram Museum intriguing. I would think that the context completely changes the way we look at Instagrammed photos -- and maybe even the Instagrams (or 'grammers) themselves find new meaning in this space. And I'm interested to know who sees Instagrams in this context that wouldn't see them in the online space -- and interpret them differently.

    It's like a museum turning digital, only the other way around. What a topsy turvy museum world we live in!

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  4. If you just scroll to the bottom of this "about" page from the Instagramers gallery http://www.instagramersgallery.com/en/about.html it lets you know about how the museum idea came to be (i'm assuming they are responsible for both the online and the physical museum since the makers of the Instagram ap are part of this team). In terms of aspects like funding and other nuts and bolts I'm not 100% sure...they Instagramers Gallery website is not super detailed on the process of the creation of this project. Id also be curious to know how the physical museum space is curated...or if they even have a curator? obviously someone has to organize the display of the photos, no matter how they are chosen. I wonder what that process is like? Thanks for the comments guys!

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  5. That's it! Next MMSt trip: Miami :) We were just discussing last week in Curatorial practice how the boundaries between online and physical curation are thinner and thinner due to the increasing presence online of exhibitions and museums, which borrow from the aesthetics of curated blogs. This museum is the perfect example, I believe, of that fluidity and adaptability of the museum space. Given the content of this "collection" which is rather democratic (at least if we follow the discourses of participatory digital cultures), the audience overlaps in a way with the curatorial team (also, keep in mind that instagram is a "curated" space itself before becoming the subject of a museum). We live in such fascinating times for museums! Thank you for the post and great comments so far!

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  6. allow me to be the first to support the Miami class trip idea ;)

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