Insta-Tard

Baby’s got a new game, and it might just drive us all mad.

It all started out innocuously enough.

Last week, Instagram ™ came to the Android platform, and ham-fisted amateur artists around the world went crazy. Finally, we could be as cool as our iPhone-toting artist/hipster/tech-wonk/undiscovered-virtuosos-working-mundane-everyday-jobs friends!

Yes, this was a very good day for those of us with dreams of artistic glory. For the rest of the world, it was probably a very, very bad day.

For those of you not in-the-know (meaning you probably don’t wear Wayfarers, skinny ties, and have brightly-colored earbuds permanently implanted in your craniums), Instagram™ is one of the smartphone world’s greatest achievements, a little photo-editing doodad that allows even the uninspired and unartistic (and yes, even those of us who gripe about the quality of our smartphone photos a WHOLE FRIGGIN’ YEAR-AND-A-HALF before discovering we can change the photo resolution of our phone/camera, but that’s another discussion and we’re talking about the here-and-now) to think we’re creating MOMA-worthy masterpieces.

Something that allows me to believe I’m amazing? And makes for immediate-and-simple awesomeness? AND allows me to seamlessly share my magnificent works of High Creation with the world and therefore make the internet EVEN MORE all about me??? Yes, please – sign me up.

And so, when I got that little email that Instagram™ was available for my not-an-iPhone-but-just-close-enough-to-launch-a-worldwide-Jobsian-crusade-for-legal-thermonuclear-war smarphone, I quickly snatched it up.

In retrospect, this was probably my first mistake.

See, when the end is coming, we almost hardly ever know it. This simple action – my downloading of a simple little app for my phone – might very well be that global catastrophe the Mayans predicted.

Because at the time, I was at work. And this time of year, when I’m inundated with a neverending crescendo of wailing and moaning would-be students and their helicoptering parents ( and by the way, where’s a Sikorsky or a land-to-air missile when you need one?), almost ANYTHING seems more interesting and worthy of my immediate and full attention than thinking about work.

Including my foot.

Descent into Pretentious Madness, Exhibit I. Like life itself, the Pretentious Artist's foot is both colorful and slightly blurred. This is deep stuff, yo.

And that’s when the world was treated to my first Insta-shot. Because yes, I’m fairly sure that my shoe (with brand new nifty orange-and-black argyle socks!) is just as fascinating to everyone else as it is to me. Even if it’s grainy because I hadn’t yet discovered that little ‘photo resolution’ button in my camera settings.

And with that, I was on a roll. Just like that, I was an Artist, and I had a Mandate from Above – nay, an obligation to humanity and civilization as we know it – to show the world at large just how much beauty there was in it. Because obviously, if I could find the beauty in something as ordinary as my shoe, we all should be able to. And if everyone around me couldn’t, it was my artistic obligation to make sure they could.

Pretentious much? You decide.

The Obligatory Pretentious Self-Portrait of Important Artist. Note the rumpled tie and gaping collar, which signify the Pretentious Artist's rejection of all things cookie-cutter and black-and-white. Or something.

First, there were the simple artistic architectural shots: a building exhaust vent, a crumbling brick edifice, a sidewalk grate. Then came the slightly creepier (and also more profound!) ‘beauty in the grittiness of the human condition’ series: a dirty baby with an enormous grin, an old crippled lady draped in beautifully bright fabrics, an apathetic hipster and a poorly-dyed fat girl sitting on a train, separated by the reflection of a man wearing a really horribly bright and gaudy tie. And finally, by the end of last week, there were the extra-angsty (but so evocative!) ‘beauty in bleak things’ shots: an abandoned house, an old rusting sports car, sidewalk trash, a stop sign. There may or may not (okay, there was, unfortunately) a picture of pigeon poop on the sidewalk, just because I loved how artistically it looked spattered on the cement in the early-morning light.

A vent. This theoretically allows for air exchange and the avoidance of build-up of potentially lethal hot gasses. Pretentious Artists do not come equipped with these, apparently.

And such it’s been for a week now. By the end of the weekend, I was not only snapping photos of such earth-shatteringly-important images as my bathing suit (again, with my pretty sunglasses making a cameo!), a row of toppled bicycles, and more hot guys, but I was a full-fledged Artist. I’d learned not only the finer points of photo editing and filtering (i.e. experimenting with the pre-set filter buttons that come on Instagram ™), but was compositing like a mofo, aspiring to new levels of deep meaning and sublimity.

And this is just the beginning. Soon, my work will go viral, and there won’t be a dusty, remote corner of the world (well, except maybe Tucson, Arizona, which as I understand barely has pavement and electricity, no less real culture) that won’t know and be in awe of my work. Facebook and Tumblr today, gallery showings with bubbly champagne and exhibits with snooty multi-subtitled-and-hyphenated-and-parenthese’ed displays tomorrow!

Either that, or I’ll recover my senses and realize that pigeon poop and smeared bubble gum aren’t actually that compelling, and that, like most pretentious would-be artists, I’m really just retarded.

Now…anybody wanna say ‘cheese’?

Stop. The insanity, perhaps? Tortured Artists are tortured.

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