What I find interesting is that "making your photos look worse" isn't new at all: it's the foundation of the "vintage" vibe that filters have been emulating since the beginning. So what's actually new here is the kind of imperfections being introduced.
It makes sense: as media capture reaches maximum fidelity, creative expression increasingly involves the purposeful choice of infidelities. Imperfection has always had a place in art, but usually it involves failing to avoid a natural mistake; for modern digital media, on the other hand, it's about subtracting from perfection rather than failing to reach it.
EDIT: Thinking about this further, it's possible that I'm focusing on the wrong thing... perhaps the dominating factor is nostalgia, which just happens to involve "imperfections" in this case because the target of the nostalgia is a medium (photography) which has been undergoing an improvement in fidelity. For all I know, perhaps one day the dominating aesthetic will be driven by nostalgia for "boring" filter-free high-fidelity images!
Nostalghia might be a factor for sure, but the driving factor is materiality. Many of us grew up in a very material world, this included film and photography. Everybody tried their best to make the media invisible (get rid of vinyl crackle, tape saturation/noise, colour shifts of badly treated optochemical films, glitches in maladjusted VHS heads, etc.) Today it is the polar opposite. Because the digital image can be so perfect, young people feel the urge to give it materiality, they add vinyl crackle to their music, they imitate the mistakes of old technology to make what they do something you look ONTO rather than INTO.
This reflects what occurred in European art from the 1850s through the turn of the century: paintings becoming less “pixel perfect” as Realism  gave way first to Impressionism  and then to Expressionism .
The paintings were still very staged and stylized.
(I have an MA in Art History which really helps centering Div's with CSS)
Nowadays we take all this for granted, when even rom-coms go through extensive computer work for colour correction to change the time of day, and other digital additions/removals. But I think at the time it was a big deal.
Not coincidentally, these kids embracing this new style today are the children of Generation X who created punk, while millennials who favored the "Instagram style" are the children of yacht-rockin' boomers.
Incidentally, Generation X didn't create punk, that was the later baby boomers.
Learned a new word today. Not that strange, considering that this term apparently wasn't coined until 2005.
But it's relevant that the last Beatles tour was in summer 1966, and that album came out in May 1967. The Beatles were fed up with stadium acoustics and screaming fans and whatever else, but definitely a part of it was simply the reality that Sgt. Peppers could not be performed live with the technology available at the time.
It's interesting to see how modern artists like Moby tackle this issue— basically they create their music at a computer, and then later on hire a bunch of musicians and figure out how to perform it on tour.
You do mean the Hendrix version, right?
The question in art is more along the lines of whether you actually want to reproduce, or if you want to interpret. For the vast majority of all history this was fairly firmly on the "interpret" side of things.
It goes beyond photography too. For example, I like producing electronic music as a hobby, and one of my favorite VSTs is RC-20 Retro Color (https://www.xlnaudio.com/products/addictive_fx/effect/rc-20_...) which intentionally adds tape noise, wobble, flutter, and dropouts; things that audio engineers painstakingly labored over avoiding and removing only a couple of decades ago.
Yesterday's distortions and imperfections are today's character and color.
I think if you look at most modernist architecture, you have a real life version of the digital look; you have the glossy, cool, and smooth aesthetic, but they have sort of an anti-human vibe to them. It might be that the influencers are just tired of the mannered look and the implications of it.
The grain however is the most important thing. What it does for me is it adds a certain distance to the thing happening. It is a constant reminder that you are looking onto a surface and not into a window. Maybe it is also about emotional distance to remind yourself: "it is just a image".
It's comparable to torn jeans. My mom would say, "We spent a lot of effort to keep our clothes clean and tear-free, and now you guys pre-tear them."
Same thing with mass produced vs man-made products.
But I guess authentic is always appreciated, but not something you have free access to if posing for pictures is your job.
Pretty much, but you can score lots of swag and make a living for a little while. A friend of mine was an "influencer," and it sort of blew my mind how much money and free stuff companies would throw at her. Of course every other aspect of it was utterly toxic, from the need to constantly pose for and post suitable photos, to the relentless positivity in the comments, to the nasty feedback from people who were jealous or judgmental. It's basically just being a small-time celebrity: fun for a little while, but don't try to make a career out of it.
Makes me ponder sometimes if the phenomenon happens across other generations or if the ever present nature of having everyone’s “stuff” so accessible online merely amplifies this sense of generational malaise.
Generational characterizations exist solely to sell books, write silly columns, and make older people feel justified when they dismiss and disrespect the younger people.
When I hear this Gen X etc stuff from the US, it feels a bit like horoscopes...
The early named ones were based around major social/economic issues that influenced them as they grew up - WWI, Great Depression, WWII - and then Baby Boomers created a sort of wave pattern in the population that made for easy groupings into the future.
That wave pattern has since become much flatter, if not disappeared completely, but the idea is pretty appealing so it persists. You will occasionally see it start to break down though, for example with "Millennial" being split into young and old.
So yes, I'd expect the "millenials" to be different. I agree with you though that "Gen X" etc. are just a smooth and unremarkable cultural evolution from what began with "Boomer" parents.
I think it's mostly this.
Let's not forget though that the generational dismissal sometimes happens in both directions, eg. those tie-dyed boomers cut their hair and voted for Reagan, now they sit around and complain about the young types for not affording a home, unaware of how easy they had it and their role in wrecking the system. (These are a few of the stereotypes anyway.)
For instance one of the stereotypes of millennials is extreme narcissism, but this doesn't necessarily manifest in everybody having some social media account where they endlessly post selfies of themselves. Though, at least in this case, the number engaged in that behavior alone probably justifies the stereotype. And by contrast boomers were most well known for, in general, a rejection of traditional views and values. The success of the civil rights movement alone testifies to the widespread nature of this change in the zeitgeist.
Really though you can perhaps see this even more clearly by looking how much the US changes its zeitgeist just about every 20 years:
- Roaring 20s
- Warring 40s
- Peace and Love 60s
- Corporate 80s
- Identity Politic 2000s
- ?? 2020s
Of course there are many exceptions to these sort of characterizations - but that's what stereotypes tend to be: things that hold true, for a 'sufficiently large' chunk of a population. That of course does not preclude many people not abiding the stereotypes.
You gotta be kidding. Narcissism was the defining characteristic of Boomers and still is.
They can’t stop taking about a music festival 50 years later for god sakes, there are literal museums devoted to their nostalgic youth fashion and lifestyle choices.
And don’t get me started on their “everything has to stay the way it was when I had a young family” approach to urban planning.
Um, basically all of us?
I was born in 1980 so I’m not sure I’m gen-X-er (I’m pretty sure I’m not a millennial) but I’d say that for my generation wearing a checkered shirt at some point in their youth/adolescence was a rite of passage.
So there is the "Xennials" micro-generation, so we can be a little bit of both :-)
Here, have an eye roll ;-)
and get off the lawn i don’t have because the Boomers are hogging all the housing...
I thought they hung out at burger joints and necked in large finned cars in drive-in theaters. (Think Grease, Back to the Future and Happy Days). Or is that the silent generation?
Senators feel the same way when they brag about never having sent an email
And let's edit our photos a different way — so they seem genuine. Oh, the irony.
And half the time all I want are shoes or clothing that fit, and often that criteria eliminates 95+% of the stock stores seem to keep these days.
I feel you: have wasted many hours the past two years in clothing stores to discover nothing fits (in ways that can't easily be corrected by tailors).
Haven't managed to buy much new clothing in the past few years because of it.
I thought that was just something older people say to explain why young people can't afford homes, while avoiding the fact the old are eating the young.
"oh you can't afford rent? , better stop with the avocado toast silly millennial"
This whole "influencer" IG culture is like fast food - no content or substance. It does seem like we may be hitting some kind of peak as people realize that devoting one's time to following random strangers' vain photos on the internet doesn't actually increase one's well-being.
And we are nowhere close to peak. Look at the hysteria developing on traditional media and social media for the pending "royal" birth.
But then again, who am I to judge. I'm on a social media complaining about social media.
I absolutely and completely disagree with you here. 99.99% media is filler? Just look over the things you read through out the day and tell me it doesn't have more substance than a picture of a girl in an obscure outfit captioned "it's cold outside today".
Today I read about game of thrones theories about newest episode, read news about a terrorist being stopped in France, upcoming events in my town, checking what people selling on facebook market and what's the current employment state in crypto world etc. etc. I can actually explain substance and value in all of these posts. Can you explain value in the instagram post? Other than some questionable social-well-being-acceptance pseudo-science?
To claim that 99.99% of all media and social media is like the absolutely absurd instagram influencer posts is just completely and utterly silly.
On the other hand, in a free market/world people are free to do whatever they want and follow whomever they find interesting. So, maybe it's just another "phase" of human evolution in the bigger scheme of things; one that should be experienced by a few generations in order for them to really realize what's important and what's not.
Ask yourself this: how were all these foods invented thousands of years ago? People probably died of suddenly eating something they were not supposed to consume, and through trial-and-error, they finally realized what's healthy for them and what's not. The "Influencers" thing is just like that, only this time it deals with peoples' minds rather than their bodies.
There's nothing wrong with that this of course, I have no problem with people posting whatever they want. I just think the article is overstating the shift in content.
So candid. #nofilter.
It's fine - I've not got a problem with someone wanting to have their photo taken. But trying to pass that off as anything different than what has gone before seems disengenius. Sure, perhaps the style of photos have changed, but then styles and fashions have always changed in everything from clothes and houses through to pets and holidays.
One thing we can be sure of, it will be back (before going away again only to return)
plural noun [usually treated as singular]
My posts have even lead to the odd DM conversation with a minor industry "celebrity" or two - Id Software's John Romero and the British tech journalist Jason Bradbury being two recent examples off the top of my head.
I suppose I just wanted to share an example of the platform being used for something other than shameless vanity. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in my weird hobby and there are plenty of others out there. Of course a forum might be a better place to discuss these things, but Instagram is very quick and easy.
That said, even in the retro tech circles there are the girls whose feeds are endless poses with their boobs hanging out holding an N64 controller and somehow have millions of followers...
There are certainly cases where I could see it becoming a real problem, especially for younger people. However, nothing stops you from using the platform for something great! Be the change you want to see in the world.
So it seems like the goofy Snapchat posts have taken over Instagram walls organically after Stories was introduced. Bad for Snap I guess.
To elaborate, Snapchat was all about My Stories, with no way to add still pictures to a wall. Now, look at Balenciaga's Instagram profile, which could as well be snapshots taken mid-Snaps.
This Instagram thing operates at different levels, I live near a popular photography spot for selfies due to the awesome view. That isn't going to ever become unpopular. However, 5 - 10 years ago you wouldn't have had people doing selfies there with the posing that goes with it. People would have once taken a picture of the view, not a picture of themselves that just so happens to have the view in the back. This is what has changed with Instagram and social media. What was people's outlet for this casual narcissism before?
That's hella meta. But I can also accept being a pictorialist, as much as an impressionist isn't just emulating a vintage style but is subscribing to an entire genre.
There's the usual counter culture vibe of trying to be different but if you tried for a bad pose with a bad filter that's not any different than trying for what was a "good" photo 5 years ago.
tl;dr 80s pop is out. Its all about 90s grunge.
I also expect to see changes in social network. It’s unlikely that Instagram will be on top in 10 years, although it could definitely be another app/network/format owned by Facebook.
Anectodally, I’ve only used Instagram to promote my art and to network as a hobby with other people who like photos of desolate abandoned-looking buildings. The usage of people in my network is unlikely to change based on popular tastes.
But I have to agree with the comment that this feels like an ad for Emma Chamberlain, who doesn’t exactly need it, because every other post in my feed is from an Emma fan account.
The article title is "The Instagram Aesthetic Is Over".
The document's title is "Influencers Are Abandoning the Instagram Look" (`document.title`).
The document title seems more informative.
Instagram is a good product and it's gotten to where it is now being a good and clever design as is. Making changes for the sake of being hip is what would send it to oblivion, like many competitors have done and fell.