In the latest of his artistic statements of intent, Kanye claimed this week he’d like to “redo Instagram.” We can’t help but wonder, WWKD?
The world’s most famous rapper-turned-fashion designer-turned-director-turned demi-god indicated this week that he’d like to add yet another skill to his CV: web developer. Speaking on a technology panel at the Cannes Lions last week, Yeezy spouted truths on everything from Apple (“Steve Jobs was my biggest influence”) to his girl Kim (“whose pictures I look at the most and get turned on by”). Discussions at the interview panel soon turned to Instagram, with Kanye offering his humble services to redesign the whole thing.
“The world as a whole is fucking ugly. The internet as a whole is fucking ugly too. But I’m not in the construction business. I said to Kevin [Systrom], why don’t you let us redo Instagram?”
But don’t get Kanye wrong – “Instagram is nice.” He might do well not to knock the photo-sharing site – it’s undoubtedly the single most important platform in the elevation of the Kimye brand, and the couple’s wedding kiss post broke all previously held records for most liked image. Besides, Kanye’s innate self-awareness would appear to be the perfect fit for Instagram’s social niceties (selfie-etiquette, humblebrags, &tc).
But clearly, ’Ye isn’t happy with things as they currently stand. So what if Kanye were to take his pursuit of good taste all the way to an Instagram redesign? For Kanye, to pursue good taste is to perform a public good. “I think the world can be saved through design”, he told the audience at the panel discussion. Born with art school nous running through his veins, and bred at Chicago's Academy of Art (until he dropped out, famously), the rapper's becoming a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary art world. At his listening party for Yeezus – at Design Miami/Basel, natch – the rapper declared: “What I want people to understand about sampling and producing is that it’s really similar to...the way Warhol would appropriate a Campbell’s Soup can." Gives a new perspective on the ideology of the “regram”, no?
‘Ye’s Instagram could be an art world takeover waiting to happen, and more fool the arts and culture publication who refuses to take the man at at his word. Here’s a hypothetical taste of what Kanye’s Instagram could look like. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you...
After Sad Drake and Sad Keanu, it was Sad Kanye who this year battled it out for the title of mopiest meme. Said image – of Kanye looking down whilst zip-lining on holiday with Kim – won The Internet, of course. But what if Kanye were to apply his particular brand of self-contemplation to the entire platform? Instagram, as it stands, is too much about happiness. It’s about time we had the rich kids of Instagram wiping their tears with their cash, the fashion bloggers revealing the foot pain behind wearing platforms 24/7, and had Miley pouting about something that’s actually upset her. Ironically, Kanye was on unusually cheery form at the Cannes talk – but then again, takeover is imminent.
In 2014, Kanye’s been all about the taster teaser. In tangent with the planner’s wedding costs, the ‘Ye rumour mill has been equally spiralling out of control. An alleged snippet of a new song, titled “Black Bruce Wayne”, leaked last month only to be swiftly taken down. But it’s the video aspect that’s really got people talking: a la Beyonce and Lana, Yeezus part II will feature an accompanying film. Written by Bret Easton Ellis and directed by Hype Williams, Kanye’s latest collaboration has a teasing 30 second trailer. Whether the future of Instagram lies in its video functions has been up for debate, but we know which side ’Ye would be on. In fact, he’d probably appreciate the latest happenings in Instagram’s video world: an Instagram TV series. Directed by 3 NY filmmakers in 15 second video installments, “Artistically Challenged” (no pun intended) launches exclusively on the site on 1 July. How very ‘Ye.
One of the most significant artists in Kanye's collaborative circle is Takashi Murakami, the Japanese neo-Pop artist widely known for his cult designs for Louis Vuitton. Kanye tapped Murakami to design the album cover and accompanying promotional material for Graduation in 2007, a manga-influenced, cartoonish aesthetic that could complement the rapper's switch to a more electronic, experimental sound on the album. Are the pair still friends enough to plot an Insta-takeover together? We think so – just last year, Kanye told Bret Easton Ellis in an interview that Murakami told him he cried when he saw Kanye's video, "Runaway." But with no plans to work together on the immediate horizon, we can only live in hope that Kim gets the Murakami teddy-bear treatment one day.
What we’ve failed to mention so far, of course, is that Kanye doesn’t have an Instagram (publically, at least). But he sure likes looking at Kim’s. So naturally, any proposed redesign would have to have Instagram’s Queen of ♥s at its centre (West, speaking at Cannes: "I can’t be with any girl but Kim, because that’s the girl whose pictures I look at the most." Wouldn't it be nice if that rule worked for everybody). With Kim’s fan base and Kanye’s vision, they’re unstoppable. Last month, according to ‘Ye, Kim wanted to just go ahead and post a quick wedding snap, but Kanye insisted on artistic control. His mission? To “raise the palette. The flowers were off-colour, and stuff like that.” So what should we expect, apart from unsaturated flowers? Kim from the front, Kim from the back, and maybe a little bit of Baby North.
Kanye's long-running collaboration with Nick Knight produced the memorable video for "Bound 2", but also for "BLKKK SKKKN HEAD": the 2013 video that used pioneering 3D scanning and motion capturing technologies to achieve Kanye's vision for his furious track. The Sims-like CGI 'Ye shocked music fans and the art world alike, signifying the dawn of a new aesthetic for the rapper. His work with Knight riffs on our communal contemporary conscious in a whole new way: a stark contrast to the cartoonish figurations of his work with Murakami, the new Kanye questions the precepts of the music video, and the industry, itself. It's even got its own movement – dubbed "the New Uncanny" by New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz, 'Ye's work with Knight is said to be a cross between Jeff Koons, Marina Abramovic and Richard Prince.
OVERTURNED 'NO NUDIE' RULE
Instagram has an all-out, no-exception ban on nude or even partially nude pictures. But, thanks to Kanye, you might not have to save it for Snapchat anymore. This year, celebrities have already pushed the boundaries as far as they can go: literally, if you’re Miley Cyrus. Scout Willis even took to the streets topless in protest at her ban from Instagram, citing “a woman’s right to choose how she represents her body.” Kim has also pushed body-conscious to its limits, but under Kanye’s wing (/handily placed arm), it’s all been in the name of artistic vision. In legendary love opus "Bound 2", Kimye famously simulated a sex scene on the top of a motorcycle – complete with suspiciously airbrushed nipple (on Kim’s part). Perhaps with ‘Yestagram, the vision needn’t be airbrushed any more.