Instagram Art Basel Social Wall

Instagram Art Basel Social Wall


What is this?

A project for Instagram in Hong Kong, during a contemporary art convention “Art Basel”. I’ve never really understood contemporary art, it always felt more like money laundering or tax evasion than anything else, but hey maybe I am missing something. Though, when I saw charred Nokia 3310 in a glass box, sold as piece of art for $20000 USD, I was a bit sketched out.

Instagram wanted a video wall, where they would promote their brand, by showing any pictures that were tagged with #artbasel and #instagram hashtags during the event’s duration. These photos would then appear on the wall, attracting the visitors, therefore promoting the brand.


The Challenges

There were quite a few surprising challenges, which, as always, shown themselves during the production. Because of extremely short deadline, we had to cut a lot of corners, and produce it in a way that wasn’t exactly efficient. The whole thing could have been coded on the web, which we did, but it was slow to render and presented itself with screen tear which we didn’t have time to fix. So it was done in Touch Designer.


Here are few challenges that surprised us:

  • We had to create a web based moderation system, where a real person was sitting and “accepting” or “declining” photos from Instagram feed. You’d be surprised how many people, even on an event like this, send pictures of their private parts, or anything related to the act of “I am drunk, so I must be funny”.

  • Web browsers aren’t fast when running on 12 screens. Manipulation photos in real-time is hardware intensive, plus “screen tear” is present. Simply put, browsers weren’t made for 10k horizontal resolution.

  • Hong Kong is extremely warm, so we had to quickly buy fans in the markets to cool down the entire Instagram box from the inside where the hardware was housed in.

  • An event venue of this size had no internet connection ports. We had to use 4G modems to communicate with everything, which caused problems since sometimes the modem’s IP changed (when it lost connection, turned off…), which was basically all the time, so we had to monitor physically during the whole event that nothing gets disconnected. When too many people were using their phones, the 4G towers couldn’t subdivide the 4G bands anymore either, so sometimes the wall was without connection for few minutes.

  • Hong Kong is very humid and warm outside, but all interiors are equipped with AC. All of us got sick from the constant differences of temperatures.

Thanks for checking out this post!