There are so many pretentious people in this world who are arrogant enough to tell other people who they are; without ever meeting them, without ever seeing them, without even knowing of them. Who are arrogant enough to think they can universally define things which are subjective in nature. Take Dan Lyons for instance, a technology journalist which I do respect but is in so many ways exactly what he accuses other people of being - ‘pretentious douche tards’.
In a post on online news blog ‘The Daily Beast’, Dan Lyons thought he would be funny and write a derogatory and distasteful rant article on Instagram, the connotations of its Android extension and of course its users.
In a nutshell his article points towards what he sees as a class warfare between iPhone users and users of the ‘lesser’ Android phones, citing the general arrogance of iPhone users and their tendency to label themselves as the tasteful, artsy demographic of the smartphone market. He takes a swipe at the whole user base of Instagram dismissing them as nauseating wannabe hipsters spending their time at back-lane coffee shops and ‘photographing’ graffiti-filled city alleyways. He discounts the output of Instagram’s filters as ‘horrific eye manure’ and finally, he attempts to vouch for his journalistic integrity by mentioning research statistics to back up his inane Instagram hatred.
I have absolutely no problems with Dan Lyons’ feelings towards Instagram and its photos; art invites opinions and opposition with open arms. I don’t like every piece of artwork I see, particularly when people splash paint onto a canvas without thought and instead try to piece together their intentions after its completed. Some people love it, and that’s cool too. Some people hated the stark simplicity of the original World Trade Center, I loved it, and that’s cool too.
What pains me is that if Dan Lyons were reading this its possible that he’d be spewing at the fact that I would even associate the word art with Instagram. He mentions explicitly that he despises the fact that these ‘talentless hipsters’ are convincing themselves that their Instagram work is ‘art’ simply because they were given the opportunity to apply interesting colour filters.
First off, I’ve never heard of or know of anyone who has tried to label their Instagram-enhanced photographs as ‘art’. People just don’t do that, and its just an example of sensationalist nonsense propaganda that Dan Lyons tries to pull off in his article. Sure, it’s understandable why such a perception would be a stereotype but it renders the entirety of Dan Lyons stance on the pretentious culture of Instagram users moot; it’s just simply not true. We can’t play on perceptions.
Secondly, what is art? Dan Lyons seems to think he knows what it is, as if art has boundaries, guidelines and criteria. He implies that Instagram users try to play off their ‘photography’ as ‘art’, but he fails in acknowledging specifically and with purpose what aspect of an Instagram-processed photograph isn’t art?
Art is essentially the sum total of making decisions, our choices add up and what we get is ‘art’. When I apply the Poprocket filter over the Walden filter in Instagram, that’s an artful decision. My photograph would look substantially different had I elected an alternate pathway.
I’m sure Dan Lyons wouldn’t deny the fact that photography is art, and photography is rife with decision making. We make choices on angles, on lighting, on subjects on camera settings, on moments - art is a form of expression, and Instagram is merely a new medium to do that.
It’s really juvenile that technology journalists are even commenting on this superficial aspect of Instagram. Chris Ziegler of The Verge takes a similar side to Dan Lyons minus the arrogance, stating that a century on we’ll be wondering why the hell so many photos taken today looked like they were taken in the 60s and left out mistakenly in the sun.
I don’t know, I don’t know why its cool to make photos look a decade older than they really are. But if you don’t like it, at least have the class to simply acknowledge it and look away, instead of finding the arrogance to accuse 40 million people for something they’re really not and to tell the world that you think you know what art is, when you clearly don’t.