Mobile Semantics: Instagram Challenge and Mosaics

On April 4, 2012, we put a call for photos out to Instagram, the world’s largest mobile photo-sharing network. We asked Instagrammers to post and/or tag photos that represented their own ideas about what a “Nonhuman Turn” might look like.

On our members personal feeds we posted (daily) sample images along with instructions on how to participate.

Via the Instagram web-viewer and analytics site,, we searched over 20 comparable hashtags, followed and encouraged, via likes and comments, over 500 individual users.

On three separate feeds (@c21nonhuman, @thinkmakedigital, and TMD-member Matt Trease’s @busylittle1way),  we daily featured the work of individual contributors and on the weekends posted weekly wrap-ups of our favorite images.

We closed the challenge on May 2, 2012 with 1,103 submissions from 118 individual contributors spread out over 5 continents. We then showcased the work in at the Center for 21st Century Studies’ conference entitled, “The Nonhuman Turn,” held at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, May 3-5, 2012. For the conference, we prepared two different visualizations of the project:

1. We constructed a random slideshow of shots from the hashtag feed. To prepare the slides we had to save all the individual images and run them through a Photoshop automation script to add user handles to the images. We then projected the slideshow on a large flat-panel television positioned just inside the entrance to the main auditorium where all the conference’s plenary sessions were held.

2. We ran 13 of the images from the feed through the desktop application, Andrea Mosaic. The software platform reconstructed each image as a mosaic of 10,000 tiles made up of images from the hashtag feed. We then printed each mosaic as a 36″x36″ poster and exhibited all 13 mosaics around the main lecture hall for the conference.

Currently, we are at work on a series of papers and talks that aim to analyze the myriad relationships between human (IG users) and nonhuman (mobile apps and mosaic software) semantic choices when posed with an abstract question like “what is a nunhuman turn?”


3 thoughts on “Mobile Semantics: Instagram Challenge and Mosaics

  1. Pingback: #c21nonhuman | Center for 21st Century Studies

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