Tuesday, November 6, 2012


"Instagram is dead. Long live Twitter..gram?"

In April 2012 Facebook bought Instagram, the popular mobile sharing and editing photography app. Some popular Instagram features include hashtags and @tagging friends which can also sync across platforms such as on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, etc. Users can enable one photo to post across various social media platforms. At best, an easily applied vintage filter can add some sophistication and enhance a photo, while critics of the app have argued that it destroys the integrity of quality images but for most it’s about sharing their lives, not engaging in photography as a profession. In the same way, Facebook updates and Blogs won’t destroy the news and industry of newspapers. 

"Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is
what seperates the snapshot from the photograph.” - Matt Hardy


The takeover by Facebook was received with a level of skepticism within the Instagram community, most claiming they'd ruin it, as many feel Facebook has been. At the most recent TechCrunch conference in San Francisco, Facebook CEO and Creator Mark Zuckerberg laid these concerns to rest, claiming that there aren't any plans to "make them come into our infrastructure". All very well and good, or is it?


A quick search through the app store will tell you there are thousands of photo editing and sharing apps on the market, but I believe the conformity of pictures and relatively simple nature of time spent from taking a photo, to publishing one, make Instagram the weapon of choice at the moment for a lot of users. Don't get me wrong, the winds of change will soon be upon us. Just like Instagram is the Emperors New Clothes, something else will come along and claim the title of the social media app you just have to have; Snapchat and Cinemagram are already shooting up app charts as we speak, though some could claim both have some credit due to Instagram.


Update - It seems that a title contender could be closer than originally thought; only yesterday Twitter announced that they are to create an in-app photo editing and sharing service to complement its current 140 character format. The inclusion of a quick, simple, editable option when importing photos into Twitter could be the perfect solution the company are looking for to take some of the market-share away from the powerhouse of Instagram and Facebook.

I'll be interested to see just how similar Twitter's creation is to its predecessor  and whether, like Instagram, photos will then be shareable back to sites like Tumblr and Facebook, although my suspicion is not. Whatever happens the fight for share of voice within the photo-sharing digital space is well and truly in full swing.


This leads me on nicely to my musical feature of this blog. Having followed aspiring hip-hop artist Kitty Cowell on Instagram for a while, it surprised me to bump into her on Carnaby Street, whilst trying to find a winter jacket, last weekend. It’s always a strange situation when the internet presents itself in real life but it was a nice surprise. Graduating from the British Academy of New Music, (alumni include Ed Sheeran and Rita Ora) Kitty has gone solo having previously worked with acts such as Example, Basement Jaxx and N-Dubz. Her blend of feisty rap and infectious choruses layered over hip-hop/dub beats is something fresh in the current climate of recycled pop. Her latest release ‘Headbang’ includes lyrics referencing her love for the metal and hardcore scene which I’m a big fan of. Keep your eyes out for this one.

Track #3

Kitty Cowell - Headbang

Friday, October 5, 2012

Life Is Beautiful?

"Mr Brainwash is an enigma."

The artist in question considers himself a part of the street artist clique. The reality tells a very different tale of severed ties as illustrated in Banksy’s debut film ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’. For anyone unfamiliar with this 2010 Oscar Nominated documentary, what started out as a documentary about street art, soon turned into a documentary about Thierry Guetta, budding filmmaker turned artist.

“Most artists spend years perfecting their craft, finding their style. 
Thierry seems to have missed all those bits. 
I mean there's no one quite like Thierry. 
Even if his art looks quite a lot like everyone else's.” - Banksy

After making waves across the pond through a series of well-publicised marketing techniques promoting his shows, (he bought the cover of LA Weekly prior to his debut solo show), Mr Brainwash headed over for his first UK show, 'Life Is Beautiful', at the Old Sorting Office in Holborn. After hearing about this free show my curiosity got the better of me.

The best way I can describe the show was as a mash-up of Pop-Art from the last 120 years. King Kong made from tyres, Warhol’s Elvis holding a Fisher Price machine gun, Damien Hirst’s famous dots dripping paint, Posh and Becks sat in a David Hockney field, Warhol’s tomato soup as a spray can and many takes on Banksy’s own work. It’s difficult to look at the work subjectively having watched Thierry creating art for the sole reason of being a famous artist. The man has scale, everything was larger than life which suitably provided entertainment, but his intention was never to create art, it was to manipulate the art world into buying his work. I don’t know that I agree with those intentions, but to all intents and purposes, fair play.

Rather than reminding us of Banksy’s humorous charm or Shepard Fairy’s (Obey) beautiful political murals, Guetta’s work has more in common with an A-level student’s latest project attempting earth-shattering statements about global economy and celebrity adornment. One can’t help but picture Mr Brainwash coming up with these short-lived jokes thick and fast whilst hoards of art student assistants swarm around him before scurrying off to birth one of his latest pieces.

Among some circles the entire creation and story of Mr Brainwash is credited to Banksy. A simple search online brings up much hoax speculation, a social experiment of sorts. I can’t say I buy into this school of thought much, my small understanding of the elusive Banksy is that he wouldn't want to humiliate his true fans (who essentially pay his bills too) with such a bizarre stunt as Mr Brainwash. Whatever the truth is it’s all a fascinating study into modern art and the publicity it can create.

To give Thierry a break, the professionalism displayed was of a high caliber and some of the replica artworks that'd be 'Brainwashed' were definitely amusing and clever. However the photographs I've included in this blog are a small proportion of the work and repetition on offer here.

The subjectivity of the art world, in this instance, has become a double-edged sword. I’ll leave you with a quote from Soho gallery owner Steve Lazarides which perfectly summarizes not only the film, ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’, but Mr Brainwash’s ‘Life Is Beautiful’ exhibition too..

"I think the joke is on... I don't know who the joke is on, really. I don't even know if there is a joke" - Steve Lazarides

This week I’ve included a track from Alt-J (∆) taken from their debut album 'An Awesome Wave'. Off the back of a host of UK Summer festival performances they were nominated for this year’s esteemed Mercury Music Prize. Their UK tour in December/January has long been sold out, however, they've just announced their biggest tour to date in May 2013, which I know I for one will try and grab a ticket for. This is one of my favourite tracks from the debut album. Feel free to share.
For fans of Wild Beasts, Everything Everything & Hot Chip.