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A Collective Portrait of Paris Made with a Sea of Instagram Photos


What does Paris look like when seen through the eyes and lenses of thousands of unrelated photographers? That’s what researcher and artist Moritz Stefaner explores in Multiplicity, a mesmerizing new art installation that’s on display in France’s capital.

Today, we collectively and continuously document our city experience on social media platforms, shaping a virtual city image. Multiplicity reveals a novel view of this photographic landscape of attention and interests. How does Paris look as seen through the lens of thousands of photographers? What are the hotspots of attraction, what are the neglected corners? What are recurring poses and tropes? And how well do the published pictures reflect your personal view of the city?

Standing in front of large wall featuring a projected display, visitors can zoom through a cloud of Paris photos that have been organized by subject and aesthetic similarity using AI.

Stefaner started off by gathering 6.2 million geotagged Instagram photos shot in and around Paris. From this massive pool of images, Stefaner selected 25,000 to create a “cloud overview map.”

“Tight clusters of almost identical images became the most interesting aspect,” Stefaner writes. “How often can people take the same photos? At the same time, each of them is slightly different indeed, and the continuous re-enactment of rituals and re-discovery of photo ideas has a comforting charm to it as well.

“A famous Monet painting inside the Orangerie — where photgraphy is actually prohibited”

“Data was instrumental in arranging these contents in a human digestible way. How else would one scan and assemble hundreds of thousands of images into a coherent whole?”

Multiplicity is on display as part of the 123 data exhibition at Fondation EDF in Paris through September 2018.

(via Multiplicity via kottke.org)