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Are We Post-Lifestyle? – Member Feature Stories – Medium — medium.com

In 1980, French theorist Roland Barthes published Camera Lucida, a slim volume in which he scrutinized his attraction to certain types of photography. An 1854 photograph of Islamic architecture in Granada, Spain, touched him deeply. In the photo, a male figure leans against a crumbling arcade. A palm frond stands erect in the middle distance, and receding turrets suggest a labyrinth just beyond the margins.  “It is quite simply there that I should like to live,” Barthes wrote. The sensation of viewing the photograph came over him as a sort of déjà vu of longing: “It is fantasmic, deriving from a kind of second sight which seems to bear me forward to a utopian time, or to carry me back to somewhere in myself.” Barthes feels like he has been there before. He wants to go there again. “For me, photographs of landscape (urban or country) must be habitable, not visitable.” On Instagram, the best lifestyle photographs are aspirational — and their contents, although visitable, are visually inhabitable to the extent that they exist in a feed, story, or grid. When done right, they give me the sensation of having seen them in my dreams, as if a certain infinity pool — correctly framed — had unlocked a forgotten chamber in my mind.  But this sense of the “fantasmic” is mostly gone from Instagram these days, as the whiff of consumerism instead trails its most prolific users. The app has been commodified by brands that rely on “influencers” with impressive followings subdivided into marketing categories.

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