Photo-bombing and the instagramization of the world

Apologies for my absence. 40 days (and 40 nights) without a posting. Inexcusable. But as Vincent Van Gogh once said ‘Absinthe makes the heart grow stronger’. Actually, I met a chap once who was convinced that Van Gogh was a red wine from Bordeaux. So, what would the venerable Vincent have made of the picture that accompanies this blog:

I think he’d have appreciated a good selfie. After all, in a hyper-productive stint between 1886-1889, the Dutchman painted and drew himself no fewer than 43 times.  There are though no known photos of the man, just one frustrating snap of the back of his head.

Yet, for all his inexhaustible energy, Vincent was way off the pace. Today, the average millennial is expected to take 25,700 selfies during a lifetime. At least one every 24 hours. Ninety-three million selfies are loaded every day. Not sure who’s counting, but Instagram now has 800 million users, that’s a tenth of the world population. Most cunningly, shops and stores, restaurants and retail are creating whimsical furniture, cut-out clothing, and fetching silhouettes to attract would-be self-snappers as incentives to push their spaces and their products on to social media. According to an article in the Smithsonian, we are seeing the  ‘Instagramization’ of the world or at least clever commercial positioning which contests the idea that social media is killing retail; in fact, they seem to be doing all they can to harness its power. We are perhaps seeing a virtual version of product placement.

And what of Van Gogh? There is now a hand-painted animation feature film, which is quite an extraordinary blend of the digital and the painterly. And I hear there are now so many books about his self-portraiture that good bookshops have set aside an entire display of them. Apparently, it’s called a shelfy….

2 thoughts on “Photo-bombing and the instagramization of the world

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