Above: A person scrolling. Credit: TeroVesalainen.
The absolute context of any photo-image viewed on an Instagram feed is the hotch-potch. Any photo will be seen as a component within a pot-pourri of sundry dissimilar items. A list is superfluous perhaps, but here is one from my Instagram this morning: a dog being walked, a baby-gro, an aerial view of Greenland, a record label, an artist at work, a group snapshot, a performance art show, a hairdresser at work, a restaurant menu, a Ferrari, breakfast cereal close-up, a modern interior, jewellery close-up, a drawing in ink, a painting, a back-pack, two women posing for a portrait ... whatever happens, this scene of miscellany or jumble is unavoidable. The poster is obliged to place their image into a context that is always so varied and diverse. Instagram serves the user with a mash-up mixture of photos to their feed. And sometimes, as J.G. Ballard noted, movement from one image to the next requires a very agile thinking process: the user has to repeatedly recalibrate in order to seamlessly decode what they are looking at--e.g., "this is about a birthday party ... this is about a sudden death..."--there is no basic emotional register on Instagram, the emotional register--or genre--continuously moves around with each new image that appears--frippery, sombreness, irony, sincerity, high jinks, etc. Whatever is encountered on Instagram, this super-context of assorted images is always present.
(29 November 2019)