Daily Life in the Instagram Age. A Socio-semiotic Perspective
in Versus n. 125, Appearance Screens. Technologies, Imagination, Forms of Life between Semiotics and Aesthetics, pp.285-302
The option now available of documenting and sharing the practices of ordinary life in real time has contributed to radically re-define the boundaries that separate direct experience of everyday living from the renegotiation of its medial forms. A case in point are the images of everyday experiences now fueling the growth of Instagram. Along with the hyperproduction of material which describes daily life in an aestheticized manner, there is a corresponding and significant reduction in the reporting value of these images of everyday life, carefully planned not so much to document the subject’s sensible grasp of the object of the experience, but rather to stage its construction, the ways in which it is articulated into discourse, to underline its cohesion with a series of constantly re-negotiated stylistic canons. This paper has a dual purpose: it aims on the one hand to show how daily life is an essential resource with regard to the forms of content produced and shared on Instagram; and on the other, to underscore how the forms taken on by the representation of everyday experiences are constantly subjected to increasing codification, fostered by the ever more pervasive role played by algorithms in channelling the practices of social network use. An exemplary case of the aestheticization of everyday life on Instagram is the so-called “flatlay” practice. The term refers to a way of producing images which consists in laying out a series of objects on a generally neutral surface and photographing them strictly from above.