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Arthur Fields

SPE Member since 2008
Member Chapter: Midwest

From Academic to Instagram

From Academic to Instagram

Isn't it striking that the most-typical and most-maligned genres of Instagram imagery happen to correspond to the primary genres of Western secular art? All that #foodporn is still-life; all those #selfies, self-portraits. All those vacation vistas are #landscape; art-historically speaking, #beachday pics evoke the hoariest cliché of middle-class leisure iconography.
- Ben Davis, Art writer and Critic

This series of work visits the hierarchal nature of academic figurative arts as it is portrayed in today’s social network platform, Instagram [IG]. Digital images are a part of a network of technologies, including mobile communication devices and social media. Photographs are created, cataloged, and shared online, creating an infinite public visual record of personal existence.

Compiling imagery from online web searches and social networks both virtual and tangible, this series consists of imagery collected through the process of data collection using hashtags. [identity markers] Acting as both curator as well as image-maker, I am concerned with choosing, organizing, editing, and remixing, to better understand the collective cultural experience that is mediated through digital processes.

By considering the photograph as data to be sorted, I engage in systems for which modern culture stores and presents images that reflect the pictorial and social relationships connecting the camera, the photographer, and the spectator. Hashtags are assigned to groups of images from my own IG feed. These hashtags correspond to traditional genres of fine art painting such as portrait, still life, landscape and everyday life.

As John Berger writes in his seminal book, Ways of Seeing, “Oil painting, before it was anything else, was a celebration of private property. As an art-form it derived from the principle that you are what you have." These sets of images, placed in the IG grid format, represent my view of the genre or a hashtag as it relates to my personal online experience. The amount of feedback or likes I get from IG followers influence the chosen gridded image. Why are these images created? Are they actually memories of daily life or is this just the modern way of displaying wealth, class or culture?

Landscape 1

Landscape 2

People 1

People 2

Still Life 1

Still Life 2

Genre 1

Genre 2

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