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Camera Lucida

Watch the new iPhone and Instagram ads at the same time

Instagram just introduced a new feature that allows users to tag themselves and friends in photos shared on the mobile app. To explain the feature, the Facebook-owned company put out a video that bears an uncanny resemblance to Apple’s new iPhone ad, which is also about taking photos with your phone. You just kind of have to watch them at the same time to see the resemblance.

It’s not that one copied other, just that the two companies seem to share an idea. (And, perhaps, a composer.) Photography is loaded with emotion—not all of it so cheerful as these ads, but so be it—and Instagram and Apple simply want to associate themselves with some of that feeling. The piercing, instantaneous nostalgia of taking a photograph. The small moment immortalized. Oh, and the soft pangs of a piano that’s apparently always playing in the background.

In Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes writes:

The Photograph is an extended, loaded evidence—as if it caricatured not the figure of what it represents (quite the converse) but its very existence… The Photograph then becomes a bizarre medium, a new form of hallucination: false on the level of perception, true on the level of time: a temporal hallucination, so to speak, a modest shared hallucination (on the one hand ‘it is not there’, on the other ‘but it has indeed been’): a mad image, chafed by reality.

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