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Title: Theorizing Instagram: Ontology, Epistemology, and Aesthetics
Authors: Li, Zizi
Keywords: Instagram
Film and Media Theory
Old and New Media
Issue Date: 17-Oct-2017
Abstract: There exists a copious literature on social media, including visual-driven ones like Instagram. Researchers, however, only use Instagram as a database to retrieve visual or cultural data to study their subjects of interest. In this paper, I theorize Instagram via the lens of film and media theory and examine if Instagram constitutes a radical break from prior media. I remediate the “ontology-epistemology-aesthetic” structure to investigate Instagram. Starting with the ontological section, I add the discussion of medium specificity into the study of Instagram as an in-trend media built upon the strategies of both past and present media forms, including World Wide Web, photography, collage, Snapchat and more. Moreover, the epistemological section bridges a dialogue among the cognition, haptic, and optic of users’ experience of interaction, embodiment, participatory culture with Instagram. This paper is then followed by the aesthetic section in which I examine Instagram’s styles and conventions regarding each and every individual photo as well as a collection of photos, borrowing core elements of analysis of film art including the framing, color, mise-en-scene, etc. At the end, I wrap the framework up by asserting this paper's stand as a reading of Instagram from the perspective of film and media theory. In a sense, I am reclaiming media theorists' rights to study Instagram and other visual-driven social media.
Description: Zizi Li received her BA degree in double major, Cinema and Media Studies & Political Science from Carleton College, Minnesota, USA. She is currently a MA student on the PhD track in the Cinema and Media Studies Program at University of California, Los Angeles. Born and raised in Shenzhen, a major hub of finance, technology and culture in China, she sees herself as an intellectual adventurer and values interdisciplinarity and openness to diverse ideas. Her current research interests revolve around future cinemas, media archaeology, social media platforms, and digital preservations of intangible cultures.
Appears in Collections:1. Re:Trace Conference - Keynotes, Papers & Posters

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