This thesis is an architectural allegory of how digital consumerism on Instagram has transformed one’s identity and what it means to live our lives in the digital age. Instagram, the fastest-growing social media platform, has changed the way we interact socially, portray ourselves, and value ourselves as a human being. Instagram as a platform has resulted in the rise of the influencer, a romanticised ideal of the digital individual. Architecture serves as an allegory and a means of discourse for this type of self-portrayal. The project uses ideas of transparency, the journey, and material qualities of the building as an architectural translation of becoming an influencer and the creation of an image.
The process of becoming an influencer is designed together with stages of concealment and reveal. A concealed core, the spaces of early preparation, evolve to become increasingly translucent to transparent as an interpretation of the process of creation of an image. The human starts hidden, becomes clearer, and finally becomes a visible figure in the public realm. Each floor provides training for an aspect of what is important in being a human on Instagram through physical toning, surgical alterations, styling, and social etiquette.
This building therefore is a journey of attainment, one which reflects the methods and processes in the creation of the influencer as a commentary on what Instagram prioritises in the human identity. The language, circulation, materials, and the sequences of the building act as a translation of becoming, and the building itself acts as a translation of the creation of an image, just as how life on Instagram is now reflected in images.
Laura Tan anticipates our fascination with social media, specifically Instagram, will produce a new species called Instasapien. Her project, the Institute of Instasapien, located at the prominent Marina Bay site, offers a twenty-first-century allegorical reading of the relationship between architectural form, spaces, social media and new lifestyles. Her project speculates an architecture that fulfils the desires of this new species living a digital life of continuous curation, publicity and perfection.- Assoc. Prof. Thomas Kong