Does Instagram represent a shift towards cheapened creativity?
Joshua Kopstein at The Verge argues that Instagram, and by extension digital photography photography is removing the the most “real” aspect of non-digital photography.
No matter how accurately a digital process is able to mimic the results of a non-digital one, the thing that will always be missing from software like Instagram is danger: the possibility of complete and utter failure.
The type of failure he is referring to isn’t when a photograph ages and looks yellow (which is what many Instagram filters mimic) but rather the often beautiful outcome from the entropy introduced during the chemical process of developing a real photograph.
William Miller’s “Ruined Polaroids” a prime example of how instant photography is uniquely suited to engaging in this phenomenon. Using a partially broken SX-70 camera, Miller makes the chemical processes of the film even more volatile, generating images that act as a collaboration between a temperamental medium and the manipulations of its operator.
If art is now being produced by the touch of a single button on a smartphone or tablet as opposed to spending time and input on a desktop machine, is our creative output doomed to shrink, dictated by the software we’re using to produce it?
It may be easier, cheaper and more immediately gratifying to throw a filter over a poorly-composed cameraphone photo, or apply a calligraphic brushstroke to a crude tablet drawing. But tools and media that make mistakes seem more familiar to us in a way; more “human” – they give us the comforting sense that we are collaborating with our technology, rather than merely using it.