Friends, Comrades and The Aesthetic Melting Pot: Instagram As a Tool Of Propaganda

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 313+314
Oral Presentation
Ayelet KOHN , Photographic Communications, Hadassah Academic College, Israel
This paper examines the ways through which the aesthetic mechanism of Instagram, a social network application designed for media sharing, is used as an emotive tool in institutional propaganda. My case study is Instagram photographs which were uploaded to the official Instagram site of Israeli Defense Force between 2012-2013. I also examined random Instagram photographs which were tagged IDF and Zahal (IDF in Hebrew).

I will suggest that the site administrators attempt to form a conceptual frame embedded in ideological, aesthetical and emotional norms shared by the users (Chandler&Livingston, 2012). This frame of values is understood as a common ground for the Israeli  users, who were raised on myths about the army and the value of deep friendship among warriors. The same frame of values serves them simultaneously as members of a social network which is based on fixed aesthetic norms such as chosen filters and the "artistic" square shape, which its similarity to Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid images makes the photographs "sentimentally beautiful" (Enquist, Magnus and Arak, 1994).

 Also common are values of sharing, the meaningful dual concept of "friends", and the vital act of positive motivating, may it be the army's hierarchic system or the social network's "likes".

I will look into the ways through which the use of Instagram helps the sites' administrators and private users to activate a unified code of symbols, which blends individuality and nationality, the beauty of nature, the aesthetic standards of the application and the admiration of armed forces (Friedländer,1984).

And last, seeing Instagram  as a platform for individuals to perform and share  their artistic creativity (Gye,2007),  goes along with another Israeli myth, which praises soldiers as sensitive indivisuals who fulfil their national duty, while being young "fighters and dreemers", who express their feelings in various forms of art.