Julian is a filmmaker and photographer. He received his M.A. in Communication from Wichita State and currently works for Yale University.
Curating the Oddities of Instagram
At first glance, Instagram is the perfect place to experience stunning landscape photography, picture-perfect models, and exciting travel photography. If you've spent any amount of time on the platform, you've probably found that accounts posting in those niches are a dime a dozen. But what about the weird, bizarre and strange stuff on Instagram? It kind of gets swept under the rug, which is unfortunate because most of the content you're about to see is fascinating, creative, and defiantly challenges our perceptions of beauty and art. Experiencing the work of these accounts gives us a look into the minds of people who have incredibly unique perspectives on the world around us, and hopefully it makes you a little uncomfortable in the process.
So buckle up and take a look at these six Instagram accounts that host bizarre content!
6. @mr.handsup: Hands Held Up High
If his Instagram handle doesn't give away his gimmick, you get a second chance with Andrew Stoletov's account bio, where he says that his motto is to be photographed with his hands up. And sure enough, the man delivers on that motto. In every photo on his profile, he has his hands up high.
If anything, he should be commended for his dedication to his theme, and the creativity he has with his photos. No two photos are alike, and each comes accompanied with a phrase that vaguely alludes to what "hands up" means in the given photo.
So why should you follow mr.handsup? Because the man makes a promise and delivers on it. He doesn't hide behind a mask (unless it's that lion photo), he tells you up front what his intentions are with his content, and he follows through with it. Every post he makes adheres to his philosophy, and the vague nature of his content leaves us with more questions than anything. Who is this guy? What does he do for a living? What inspired this philosophy of his? What does he mean by all these HANDS UP quotes?
We might never know, but until then, at least we have his dedication to his craft. Oh, and did I mention he hosts a YouTube channel dedicated to tearing up socks?
5. @combophoto: Weird Photos Combined
The premise of combophoto's account is also pretty simple: combine two unrelated images together into a single interesting photo. The content found here can be pretty entertaining and creative, but can also be somewhat odd (as expected).
So yeah, combophoto. He combines photos. Pretty simple, yet still oddly creative and somewhat bizarre in some cases, which is why you should be following him. When one of his photos pops up on my feed, I'm always intrigued by the way he finds to weave two completely unrelated images together. It's just such a unique concept, and it's nice to break up the tedium of Instagram with his posts.
4. @_remmidemmi: Collapsed Individuals
At first glance, this page is pretty bizarre, but it's weird for the sake of the art, which may give it a different feeling than the previous entries. This is the Instagram page of Italian artist Sandro Giordano's photography series _IN EXTREMIS (bodies with no regret). Each shot is carefully crafted with great detail to give us as much information about the character as possible, who is usually anonymous and lying face down wherever they've collapsed.
In Giordano's words,
"Each shot tells about worn-out characters who, in a sudden black-out of mind and body, crash with no attempt to save themselves. They are unable to, because of the fatigue of the everyday representation of living, oppressed by appearance instead of simply existing."
His artwork draws on the hectic, nonstop nature of our lives and the consequences that can come from reaching your limit. You should definitely be following his account because on some level, we should all be able to relate to the underlying message of his work. We've all been run ragged by life, worn down to the point where we may just need to crash and reset.
3. @brunopontiroli: Surrealist Animals
When it comes to surrealist paintings, a majority of them could probably be categorized as bizarre in some way. In fact, if a surrealist painting wasn't bizarre, then I'd be inclined to say they aren't approaching the style correctly. Naturally, French artist Bruno Pontiroli captures the weird atmosphere of surrealism incredibly well in his art. He takes figures that we're familiar with, namely animals such as moose, elk and polar bears, and contorts them into impossible positions.
The idea that figures so familiar can become oddly unfamiliar to us in the face of Bruno's paintbrush is the exact feeling he goes for. On his website, Bruno talks about the passion that drives his work.
"My aim is turn the narrow vision that we have of the world upside down and disturb our imagination while shaking an accepted reality with images that are as comprehensible as they are familiar. Distorting a symbol or mixing opposing universes allows me to question the identity of things so that I can reinvent them."
And I think that's why it's important to follow Bruno's work. We sometimes get in a rut, we get comfortable, and we stop observing what's around us. Bruno's art shakes our reality up because it takes familiar figures and reinvents them into bizarre reincarnations that make us really observe and question what's going on. His art makes your mind work in ways that force you to tap into your imagination, suspend reality for even just a moment, and enjoy the weird, surreal world he creates.
Oh, and his work doesn't solely focus on animals. Sometimes humans are included too!
2. @benzank: Bizarre Minimalism
When you think about photography of people, you probably immediately think of smiling people, posed models, or street photos of people going about their everyday lives. Essentially, you think of photos of something human in nature. Photographer Ben Zank effectively takes what we're accustomed to, and turns it on its head to get his desired effect. In an interview, Zank gave a concise answer about how he'd describe his style:
"I often answer this differently every time someone asks, but today I would say it is bizarre minimalism with a touch of stark contrast."
Just take a look at some of his photos and you'll get what's being said.
It's fascinating how he can include human beings in his photos, and yet somehow make his work seem so inhuman. His images work against our preconceptions toward photography, and the lack of major human traits (in most cases a lack of a face), and the lack of context for the images can unnerve us. The fact that we can't work out who is in the photo and what's going on can easily create discomfort in a viewer, and I think that's the exact reason you should be following Ben Zank's work.
Just think about how difficult it can be to create images like Zank does, where you have push past your desire to create images that are familiar and natural, or that you connect with easier. The fact that his work is so creative and so absolutely bizarre should be reasons alone to keep up with what he's doing.
1. @mothmeister: Nightmare Images
Think of the scariest image you can. Wait, actually, I take that back. Think of the most peaceful thing you can, that way the contrast between those thoughts and what you're about to see will be even more surprising.
Mothmeister are an artistic duo from Belgium. They collect taxidermy and create haunting photographs with them alongside terrifying masked figures. The photos take place in desolate areas, which add a sense of ambiguity to the photos, and are depictions of places that I would most certainly not want to encounter the figures they feature (there's nowhere to hide in most of the images).
Their photography is high quality and their costume design is top notch, which is incredibly respectable. The artists have a specific atmosphere in mind with their work, and strike it so unbelievably well.
Interestingly, their work has been described as "anti-selfie", where they work to create images that are counter to what's expected in a selfie. In an interview, mothmeister described themselves as:
"passionate taxidermy collectors who portray anonymous, ugly masked creatures as a reaction against the dominant exhibitionism of the selfie culture and beauty standards marketed by the mass media."
Like several of the other accounts on this list, mothmeister also work to challenge our idea of beauty and shake up our perceptions of the world. Their account may have incredibly unnerving stuff on it, but I think they're definitely worth following. Besides the fact that their work is high quality and highly imaginative, I think it's good to challenge ourselves on what we deem as art, beauty, and creative.
The Search for Oddities Continues
I hope you had as much fun exploring these accounts as I have, and it's been a pleasure sharing their work with you! If you're intrigued by this article, please follow all the creative individuals featured and continue exploring other work that's out there. Still haven't had your fill of weird, bizarre content on Instagram? Then check out 6 more strange and weird Instagram accounts.
You've only scratched the surface of the weird and bizarre of Instagram!
© 2018 Julian Liby
Julian Liby (author) from Connecticut on June 03, 2018:
Hi vocalcoach, thank you for your kind words, I appreciate it! I'm glad you enjoyed the content, and I'm looking forward to putting together more articles and practicing my writing here!
Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on June 01, 2018:
I enjoyed your hub. Unique, well-written with interesting content and amazing photos. Looking forward to your next article. Thank you!
Travel Chef from Manila on May 31, 2018:
I see. I thought it's edited. But I wonder how they actually did the picture of a man wearing coat and a tree?
Julian Liby (author) from Connecticut on May 31, 2018:
Hey DredCuan! I wouldn't say the photo of the man under the yellow lines is edited, but rather he just has yellow tape over his neck and head to simulate the yellow line of the road. It's not very natural, but it's still a neat concept nonetheless!
Travel Chef from Manila on May 30, 2018:
I like the combination of two different images together, specifically the dog and the cauliflower! It looks so natural. However, the man underneath the yellow lane pretty looks edited as the color of the lane showed different shade.