Archiving expressing digital places from Instagram from the COVID-19 pandemic
Year — 2022
Team — Andrea Benedetti, Giacomo Flaim, Beatrice Gobbo
Partners — Self initiated
Area — Scraping, programming, editorial design
“Quaran.tiles” is the physical representation of a collection of expressive geotags created on Instagram in 2020 as a response to quarantines during the first wave of infections of COVID-19. Due to the lack of vaccines and cures for the illness, the reaction of various local governments was lockdowns of multiple scales that forced people to stay at home. On social media platforms like Instagram, which offer UI affordances to tag photographs in various places globally, this became impossible for many people due to lockdowns. People in lockdown started to re-appropriate these UI affordances not to locate themselves in a specific place but instead in a fictional place that reflected their condition instead of geographic coordinates. A series of posts tagged in places named “Quarantine” started to appear. Due to how the platform is structured, these non-existent places are often associated with real-world coordinates, creating a mingling layer where digital aggregations of data and real-world features meet. After a first mapping that provided an archive of these places directly on Instagram (@quaran.tile), the ephemeral nature of the content on the platform required a physical archival effort to preserve the constructed dataset.
This assemblage results in a catalog of places scraped from Instagram as of summer 2020. Various levels of information can describe each place. The first layer is the one available on Instagram: the name is found on the platform, along with latitude and longitude, when available. The address was automatically obtained through reverse geocoding to emphasize the relationship between these digital places and real-world locations. A collection of images from Google Streetview was downloaded as an additional layer of information.
50 words description - “Quaran.tiles” is a catalog of geotags scraped from Instagram as a response to quarantines during the first wave of infections of COVID-19, which started various local governments was lockdowns that forced people to stay at home. Due to the impossibility to go out, people started to re-appropriate the geotag affordance to locate themselves in fictional places linked to their condition: posts tagged in places named “Quarantine” started to appear.