Jason Silva on Shots of Awe: Instagram

 
 
 

Originally published by Ryan Grenoble as “Profound Examination Of Instagram Will Leave You Inspired By The Power Of A Photo” on The Huffington Post

If you use Instagram, then filmmaker and TV personality Jason Silva would like to congratulate you on successfully navigating two different, simultaneous realities.

Don’t worry. Near as we can tell, this isn’t the Matrix, and you aren’t Neo. The notion of dual realities is the subject of Silva’s latest “Shots of Awe” YouTube video, wherein he examines how, through Instagram, we are “experiencing the present as an anticipated memory” — an idea popularized by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel laureate and psychology professor at Princeton, in a 2010 TED Talk.

At the moment a photographer of the so-called “Instagram Generation” takes a picture, says Silva, that person is both experiencing the present reality and actively shaping how that reality will be remembered in the future. While some might argue we’re betraying the present by not living in the moment, Silva sees it as a liberating, even empowering force.

“You’re given a chance to decide how this moment will be remembered,” he says in the video. “We all become artists, we all become architects of our mental narratives, of our historical digital paper-trail. We decide who we are. We’re building maps, and those maps are subjective. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. … I think it liberates our desire to be artists.”

In an email to The Huffington Post, Silva speculated that the desire to continually document and preserve the present is rooted in a deep, anxiety-inducing understanding that we are finite beings. That anxiety isn’t unique to the Instagram Generation, says Silva, who references cave paintings and other forms of art as supporting his idea.

“I think ultimately humans ‘capture’ moments to hold mirrors up to ourselves, to understand ourselves in context, to affirm that we exist,” he told HuffPost. “Mortality looms over our ecstasies, transience haunts our dreams … and so we document, we anchor our lives through vintage photo filtering, we stake our claim: that we are here and we exist.”

WATCH the thought-provoking “Shots of Awe” video, above.

Angela Brugioni