Instagram’s regressive aesthetics

I was discussing the other day with a game user interface designer from Edinburgh. Our conversation meandering and common interest for technologies led us to talk about Instagram, and all the cool filters that they allow you to superimpose on your pictures. Well, “cool” was my personal view, my friend, on the other hand, did not seem much impressed by the technology, arguing that he preferred keeping the pristine purity of his shots. Fair enough.

Then, he raised a very interesting point, saying that “Instagram filters offer a way of regressing in the practice of photography”, a way of going back to vintage, dated aesthetics that were, only a few years ago, sharply neglected as outdated modes of representation.

Now, people seem increasingly attracted by these technologies and ways to broadcast their lives and interests. Which benefits do Instagram filters really bring to users? Is it the playfulness of the application? The ability to position oneself in a certain way in the social realm? What do these little square pictures tell about us?

What does this one Instagram picture say about me?

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Is less more or do we want more for less?

“As more of our basic needs are met, we increasingly expect sophisticated experiences that are emotionally satisfying and meaningful”

I found this quote reading through the literature on design and innovation, as part of a research project I am involved in. Leaving my academic research mindset for a while, it leads me to wonder: are we, consumers, indeed looking for more and more complex product offerings, to match our vibrant and experiential lifestyles? Or, on the contrary, are we not craving for a bit more simplicity and a return to basic forms of need satisfaction ?

So, that’s the question: a we craving for sophistication or simplicity in our consumption choices? Have consumers become needy only children that think they can claim and get anything they want ? Is the market tangled in a vicious circle of  always giving away more to top up consumer expectations and competition? Or are consumers fed up with all the content, information and products that companies are bombarding them with and willing to go back to life’s essentials?

What do you think?