TheInstaPaper: Digital Goes Physical
We take a look at the first in a series of edits celebrating the cultural phenomenon, the instagram
Back in the 1980s, the Polaroid became synonymous with a cultural shift towards democratic photography: instantaneous gratification mixed with low cost, ease and an enthusiasm for developed technologies sent thousands of amateur photographers snap-happy world-wide. Fast-forward 30 years, and whilst a desire for instant gratification hasn’t waned, the demand for instant film-processing camera units has. Stage right: Instagram.
TheInstaPaper, edited by Francisco Salvado, is the first in a series of edits that seeks to capture this new era of instantaneous photography, moving it from the digital world into the physical by turning the images of eleven artists — Ben Toms, Pierre Debusschere, Mika Ninagawa, Marcelo Burlon, Tracy Sedino, Daniel Arnold, Pandora’s Jukebox, Daniel Sannwald, Gary Card, Boy Child and KT Auleta — into a beautiful, limited edition stencil printed book.
“There’s lots of artistic activity happening online, particularly on Instagram
and I questioned myself about what could happen to it in the future”
Betty Wood: What is the concept behind TheInstaPaper?
Francisco Salvado: There’s lots of artistic activity happening online, particularly on Instagram and I questioned myself about what could happen to it in the future. [TheInstaPaper] takes these instagrams and, using special stencil and Riso printing techniques, elevates them to an artistic level. On a phone, what these amazing photographers are doing is seen as disposable media. But if you print it and turn it into a book, all of a sudden it turns into quite a different thing.
Betty: So you’re giving something disposable longevity through solid form to change the perception of it?
Francisco: Right. Throughout the process, we weren’t completely sure about the idea,
but as soon as we started talking to people, everybody seemed to be very much into it. It also made people very aware of what they were doing with their own Instagram accounts. Sometimes you have someone shooting a fashion editorial or [a still life], and the pictures going up on Instagram (from behind the scenes) are as good and more interesting than the result [from the shoot]. What we’ve done is edit together a great selection of this [standard of instagram] for the book.
Betty: Is there a thematic thread running through TheInstaPaper?
Francisco: I guess that the thread that unites this Edit is the selection of people involved, and their desire to express themselves and to create.
Betty: What was the criterion for selecting the eleven photographers?
Francisco: Initially, we started looking at people who are working within the fashion and art worlds, and then we realised that there are other people who are not necessarily established artists that have a very interesting backgrounds and worlds around them. We thought it was very interesting to mix the two so you have somebody like Ben Toms, Pierre Debusschere who are very much established photographers, and other personas like Boy Child or Daniel Arnold who are not necessarily “industry” people, but who have amazing worlds around them.
Once we got in touch with them, we made sure that every person had a selection of images that represents their own world and that the selections were very different from each other’s. Hopefully, what we did editorially is to bring together “best edit” of what represents them the most.
“I think [Instagram] is simply a new format paired with a new platform,
similar to how Polaroid had their moment in time”
Betty: There’s criticism that Instagram’s made everybody’s photographs look the same — how are online mediums affecting digital photography? How are you tackling that in this book?
Francisco: This is the first project that we’ve decided to do documenting online activity and turning it into a physical object. In terms of Instagram… I think it is simply a new format paired with a new platform, similar to how Polaroid had their moment in time.
It’s one of the many tools, and what they clearly did very well is create a community around it. What’s really interesting is to see how people are utilising these new digital tools to create new art forms and express themselves.
I think there might be a lot of pictures that you might think of as ‘disposable’, but what we’re doing trying to celebrate what we believe is very good, edit them, and print them in a very beautiful book with a very beautiful layout. And do the best we can at that job.
Betty: How do you see the project evolving? Will there be further edits?
Salvado: Yes, this is our first. We came up with the idea very recently, and turned it all around in three weeks. Going forward, we have other ideas to make it even more interesting… Watch out for #edit2.
TheInstaPaper is available to buy (in limited edition) online and from selected worldwide stores