Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Paul Benzon


This essay explores participatory media as a form of “imperfect cinema”. Particularly, I’m focusing on Instagram as a platform in which users both produce and consume material in a way which embodies Juan García Espinosa’s notion of how “imperfect cinema” functions. To begin, I will attempt to tease the greater context of this paper, that being the production and consumption of digital content in the twenty-first century and how the modes of how content is produced emphasizes or complicates an ancient tension between the individual and corporation, proletariat and bourgeoisie, and the casual and profitable. I’ll observe the framework of Instagram more broadly, its ability to draw overlap between the individual and corporation, and the curious phenomena of lo-fi aesthetics. From here, I will propose a particular reading for this phenomenon; that lo-fi aesthetics branch from an intrinsic desire to oppose capitalism. Next, I will introduce the framework of imperfect cinema, its qualities, and how these qualities are illuminated in Octavio Getino and Fernando Solanos’ 1968 Latin-American film Hour of the Furnaces. With the framework of Hito Steyerl implemented in her work, “In Defense of The Poor Image,” as well as Juan García Espinosa’s Third Cinema manifesto, For an Imperfect Cinema, I will draw connections between the mode of “Imperfect Cinema” and low quality digital aesthetics. With this understanding, I will use this framework to discuss a renaissance of lo-fi imagery, and weird internet aesthetics. Essentially, in understanding that lo-fi aesthetic functions similarly to “imperfect cinema,” in combination with the framework discussed by Espinosa, Gettino and Solonas, and Steyerl’s modernized conception, we can understand how and why lo-fi aesthetics arise, why they are “work” to either be funny or impactful, and what they inevitably end up doing to comment or critique modes of control over the common individual.