Here's What Happens When You Repost the Same Photo to Instagram 90 Times

Artist Pete Ashton just took regramming to a crazy extreme. You've seen regrams before, maybe you've even done it yourself. While browsing your Instagram feed, you see something you'd like to post yourself, so you take a screenshot, and then you upload that image.

For his new project "I Am Sitting In Stagram," Ashton regrammed the same photo 90 times, and it's actually astounding how much the image quality degrades by the final upload. As PetaPixel points out, the work is a perfect example of generational loss: copies of copies of copies get worse and worse unless the system can perfectly reproduce them. Every time you upload the image to Instagram, it's reprocessed and recompressed by the service. So even if the screenshot you take is a perfect representation of the pixels on your screen, the image still degrades.


The old dude in the photo in question isn't just any old dude, ether. It's experimental composer Alvin Lucier. Ashton's piece is actually a homage to Lucier's "I'm Sitting In a Room," in which the composer recorded himself talking and repeatedly rerecorded the audio until it was just a bunch of noise.

Ashton's piece is fun, sure, but it's also a good reminder that your images are only as good as the format you save them in. If you upload your wedding photo to Facebook and then download it and post it to Twitter, and then Instagram the quality will eventually get perceptively worse. The digitally degraded shitpic is becoming the aesthetic of our time. Save your originals! [Pete Ashton via PetaPixel]

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It irks me that a lot of people (including my own friends and family) are unaware of just how much compression is involved in these photo sharing social networking services, like Instagram and Facebook. With the exception of specifically tailored photo/video services, like Flickr, they're not designed to act as memory vaults.

And I know not everyone uses them as such, and just as casual sharing services (as do I), but gosh. It really bothers me when someone has a total disregard for preserving the original image/file.