Decoding Instagram

The ancient emergence of information-encoding mechanisms that seek both optimal self-replication and resilience against catastrophic loss of components and sub-systems – in contemporary manifestation.

Instagram’s success is not (entirely) about images or advertising; to find the kernel encoded there, observe the (literally) sub-liminal patterns and inverse symmetries of a representational logic. This is all about participation in the replicating logic of a communication method which autonomously seeks continuity and iterative self-replication through its transmission medium.

The networked digital infrastructure and distributed matrix of material systems and devices that support the communications platform is not the foundational or core transmission medium, regardless that this is the enabling system. Human minds and our entrained, enculturated behavioural reflexes are the transmission medium. Images represent concise packets of cognitive and cultural grammar and encoded rules-sets that provide convenient abstractions through which the logic and information patterns themselves express themselves, masked or conveyed as expressions of self-identity.

The relatively reduced complexity of a visual image displaces or suspends the acknowledgement that each bundle of representational rules and conventions thus encoded serves as a distributed storage mechanism for a cognitive practice, a culture and a civilisation. This distributed encoding mechanism is holographic – the whole pattern and encoded (or encrypted) entity exists, if with a measure of uncertainty, in every part and can be reproduced from it. In this way, the self-propagating information transmission of logical abstractions obtains resilience and redundancy to component loss or catastrophic system failure.

It is in (and as) this endlessly-adaptive metamorphosis of logical rules and encoding mechanisms that technology acquires its apotheosis as self-replication, exponentiated. It is also as a primary recombinatory method for the persistent illusion of individuation and subjectivity that the immaterial abstraction of logical recursion cultivates us – as much, if not more, than we cultivate and endlessly reinvent ourselves.

These observations are as true of any contemporary social media content and context but Instagram holds a special place in my art. (To be continued…)

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