Professor Lev Manovich and Research Team Examine Social Upheaval via Instagram
NEW YORK, Oct. 7, 2014 — Lev Manovich, a professor of computer science at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, announced today a new study of over 13,000 photos from the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution and shared on on Instagram.
The study – "The Exceptional & The Everyday: 144 Hours in Kiev" -- uses data visualizations to explore patterns in this photo collection. While other researchers have already examined the use of Twitter and Facebook during recent social protests such as Arab Spring, this is the first study to focus on the visual medium of Instagram.
The collected images depict not only confrontations between demonstrators and Ukrainian government forces, but also present everyday life in Kiev juxtaposed against the backdrop of an unfolding uprising and political revolution.
Using Instagram public API, the project team collected all publicly available geo-coded Instagram images shared during February 17-22, 2014 in Kiev. The specific geographical area was focused on Independence Square, the central location where protests and confrontations took place. The collection contains 13,208 images shared by 6,165 Instagram users. The images were also tagged with 5,845 unique tags.
The project uses both computational and manual methods to explore the content of images, analyzing how revolutionary events were represented on Instagram. It also explores non-visual data that accompanies the images: most frequent tags, the use of English, Ukrainian and Russian languages, dates and times when images their shared, and their geo-coordinates.
"Over a few days in February 2014, a revolution took place in Kiev, Ukraine," said Manovich. "How was this exceptional event reflected on Instagram? What can visual social media tell us about the experiences of people during social upheavals? We spent eight months working on the collected images, exploring the data from every possible angle."
The project team includes Manovich, who is also director of the Software Studies Initiative; Dr. Mehrdad Yazdani, Research Scientist, Qualcomm Institute, University of California, San Diego; Alise Tifentale, Ph.D. candidate, Art History, The Graduate Center, City University of New York and Jay Chow, a researcher with Software Studies Initiative.
"The Exceptional & The Everyday: 144 Hours in Kiev" continues the unique research of Dr. Manovich's lab with large collections of social media images. Previous projects include phototrails.net (visualization of 2.3 million Instagram images from 13 global cities) and selfiecity.net (analysis of 3,200 Instagram selfies from 5 cities).
Unique images of "144 Hours in Kiev" are available here.
Contact Tanya Domi, director of media relations at firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-817-7283 for an interview of Dr. Lev Manovich and other members of his research team.
About the Graduate Center
The Graduate Center (GC) is the principal doctorate-granting institution of the City University of New York, offering more than thirty doctoral degrees from Anthropology to Urban Education. The Graduate Center also offers an interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Liberal Studies and several courses of study leading to a terminal Master of Arts degree. In addition to rigorous academic training in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, the Graduate Center fosters globally significant research across the faculty and in a wide variety of centers and institutes. The Graduate Center is home to a core faculty of approximately 150 teachers and mentors, virtually all senior scholars, many leaders in their disciplines, and more than a third holding the rank of Distinguished Professor—the University's highest academic honor. Further, as the only consortium of its kind in the nation, the Graduate Center draws upon more than 1,600 faculty from across the CUNY colleges, as well as from cultural, academic, and scientific institutions throughout New York City.