A friend, who owns one of my earlier drawings from the eighties, asked me why I post work on social media, in particular, Instagram and at the time, Facebook and Flickr. My immediate response was, “Oh, it provides me with an immediate publishing platform for my drawings and paintings” quickly adding, “The downside is the instant I upload an image it’s competing with hundreds of thousands of images across different time zones.”
An old niggle in my mind says, “And you have provided this content for free for years and actually pay for the privilege financially and personally.”
In the end I said, “I do it for fun,” which is true, but not saying, “It would be good to crack the secret of the manufactured digital age breakthrough giving further life to my work outside the walls for my studio.”
Then there is the social media spiel: “You’re an artist! You must be on Instagram. It’s visual! Go post quality photographs, make content of interest to attract clicks, be active and engage with your audience,” said the expert. All true.
The trouble is you’re rumbling with millions of images of varied quality; from the brilliant to the mundane; along with the cute and pretty, the safe and nice, the skilled to the inspired and everything else in between. So it goes.
Instagram, when used as a kind of visual diary showing work, travel or interests is fine. Unfortunately for me, this is undermined, as some of my posts are uploaded out of time due to healthy internet paranoia.
My own web page, my property and domain, tends to gather virtual cobwebs through my neglect. The deletion of my Facebook account last year was easy due to the growing toxic nature of its invasive and insidious political content. I’ll stick with Twitter for that. One less time waster with Facebook gone.
So, what to do with Instagram?
Instagram is fun to play with, juggling the platform’s grid and working with what images I have available at the time. So, it has some creative play as a two dimensional Rubik’s cube.
The enjoyment is in positioning each image to make a coherent new work within the constraints of the Instagram grid viewed in any grid position. I am not sure about the level of satisfaction and success, but it does offer some challenge.That is the idea.
A late realisation is the feed is singular. You have to visit my profile to see the play with multiple images and the ” coherent new work” relevant to my eye and taste.
All that work to coordinate colour, shape and content is not for the flighty observer. The singular image still has to catch the viewer’s eye or the person has to be there for other reasons.
My statistics bluntly show my singular images are not grabbing the filtering algorithm and the tastes of the hundreds of thousands of Instagram users, nor is the grid. Occasionally, I am flattered for a mini second when spruiked by a magazine curator asking to add my “highly undervalued” work to their publication. Only to be deflated after clicking their link requiring money. So it goes.
I have turned a full circle in this self-reflective discourse- where my singular images do not drive the viewer to my profile and thus the grid…so who will notice this artistic endeavour? I am left with the same questions. When people “like” an image are they:
- Actually, interested in the image?
- Curious about other work?
- Ringing the bell “notice me” to get a like or follow?
- Wanting to engage?
- Meaning to encourage?
- Keeping in touch
- Being dutiful?
- Confirming the lifestyle of others?
- Keeping an image as a reference or resource?
Who the fuck knows? Probably all these reasons at various times and others I’ve not thought of.
It’s a reflection in a glossy puddle.
As for my own Instagram feed-it still exists after a culling a year or so ago, as it provides some creative satisfaction or more honestly, an enjoyable distraction for evenings.
The tyranny of the shuffling grid is losing its attraction. Then there is the onslaught of ads and time demands-doing posts in threes is demanding.
Time to find my copy of InstaClean?