There is more to this instagram account than what first meets the eye. Wisrah shows us the ropes of the online market place and explains his relationship (and all of our relationships) to these images.
What is your name and Where are you from?
My name is Wisrah Villefort and I am from Buritizeiro, a city in Brazil.
When did you start your feed and how did you pick your handle?
It was like a year ago. I wouldn’t say that there is a single theme running thru it because it has changed a lot since then. In the beginning, I was basically collecting product images from a particular online marketplace that interested me, that was a bit before I start the Instagram feed itself.
Part of the motivation came from things I was thinking a lot of at the time. I mean, not only myself - we were all talking about how images circulate on the internet and how they are reproduced, multiplied, copied etc, and what how real those digital images are - The perception of images being actual objects. I think I was trying to be part of this discussion.
Later on, I was observing how what I was doing already happens within the online stores themselves - functioning like an accidental stock image service with no source attributed. That fascinated me because I really like how new media sorta shakes some untangle structure powers - such as the sense of authorship. I am not really interested in uniqueness or the myth of the genius per se.
After I got overwhelmed with this idea that everything is material, that your computer or the data in it are as natural as a flower and all that. Are all images – or objects, if you will – really equal? This led me to question the human necessity of reading everything as if it were here just for us. So, at some point, I started to think much more about the existence of the objects than their materiality.
Where do you sit with or how do you feel about your instagram now?
Just the observation alone, that we as humans developed a whole system that aims to manipulate matter in our favor - this very idea of “design for the self”, whether it is a mask to control domesticated cats or a bracelet to attach children to parents. Also, how those objects perpetuate certain patterns within the human condition. From Barbie to Robot Sophia, the way we value objects, including images, and the existence of these beings is what I’m interested in right now.
What sources do you look to for material to post?
I started with Mercado Livre only, which is an online marketplace from Argentina, but huge in Brazil. Later I started to use AliExpress too, from China. Recently what does end up happening is that Facebook ads suggest really interesting images to me from both of those places, often many times better than the ones I find while scrolling sellers’ feeds. It is fascinating and it also gives me a lot to think about.
Where did your interest for online marketplaces come from?
I think my interest towards online marketplaces comes from some memories about the stories I heard as a kid. “Someone bought a computer online but got two bricks in a box delivered instead”. I grew up with it. But also, online stores from different countries highlights how territorial the internet is -if we just think about how different the allowance of internet usage is in China and Argentina for example.
Are you addicted to instagram or any other social media?
I am very active on Instagram as I run two other accounts. And they are not quite a social media, but I also spend a lot of time on the online stores' apps. I wouldn’t use the word addicted… because I feel like it kinda creates a distance between social media and everything else. I am not saying that one can’t be addicted to the internet, but I think is common to speak about it as an alternative to the “real world”, or a representation of it, or even that it is something fake and these perceptions just fall into a dualism that tends to pathologize the use of those tools.
Is there anything you wish you could post that you can't or won't?
No, not really. I don’t have a script but I would post anything and I never had a problem because of any post. There were a couple of misunderstandings, but I like it. I like that it is much more about the audience’s relationships with the images rather me saying what was my initial idea. Though there are places to talk about it – this interview, for instance!
Images courtesy of @mercado__livre
interview ASHLEY MUNNS
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