Photographer Janick Entremont took a portrait of himself, uploaded it to Instagram, downloaded it, and repeated that process over 300 times to see what the photo-sharing service’s compression algorithms would do to the image. The resulting project is titled “@facetinction | A (con)temporary portrait.”
Here’s the original photo:
After 80 reuploads:
After 340 uploads:
Here’s an animated GIF showing the quality loss as the compression builds up — this is something known as “generation loss.”
“For me, the project is relevant on many levels: The handling of our digital data, online or offline, and the flood of images,” Entremont tells PetaPixel. “How improper use of social media changes our well-being and our appearance (regarding trends). Up to the constant surveillance and face recognition as it is common in China.”
Artist Pete Ashton did this same experiment on Instagram back in 2015 with his project “I Am Sitting In Stagram (2015),” but he stopped at 90 reposts. The resulting generation loss also looks quite different between Ashton’s experiment and Entremont’s — it’s unclear whether this is due to a difference in the starting photos or because Instagram has made changes to its compression algorithm.