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  • Arts & Culture
  • Issue 42

Side Effect

The Instragram filter as art form.

Words by George Upton. Photograph by Bea De Giacomo and Laurence Leenaert / LRNCE.

When Instagram made its augmented reality software available to the public in August 2019, the platform was quickly flooded with novel, user-generated effects that alter your appearance and surroundings. Suddenly, it seemed, anyone with the time and inclination could create a filter that made it appear as if you were wearing comically large glasses or had sprouted dog’s ears. But the technology quickly caught the attention of contemporary artists too. 

Filters were developed to be a fun way to engage with followers, but many artists have been drawn by the ability to play with a sense of self and subvert the pressures to conform on social media. In the surreal Dream Machine effect by Mitsuko Ono, for example, a carousel of colorful figures, all wearing your face, spins slowly around your head. Adrian Steckeweh’s effects erase the self entirely, creating the impression that your face is melting or dissolving


This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Two

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