INSTAGRAM, Menlo park / INSTAGRAM / 2019
Instagram partnered with world-renowned artist and designer Es Devlin to bring the connective power of Stories and storytelling to life. Stories and vertical video are an innovative format to share life’s most authentic moments, serving as the latest chapter in the evolution of Instagram and visual storytelling. Together, Instagram and Es Devlin designed an immersive, filmic installation – fusing technology, design and storytelling to celebrate Instagram’s leading role in culture and business – for the 2018 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
The activation chronicled the last 40,000 years of mankind’s storytelling and its primal, human importance – beginning with the depiction of cave paintings, and continuing until the advent of today’s Instagram Stories in the digital age (the ‘next link’ in this history). The layers of content evoked a visceral, emotional response, while the content’s style was delivered in a precise and artful manner.
Instagram STORYSCAPE came to life as a partially flooded cityscape, opening with the question: “Who told the first story?” The experience explored the origins of “stories,” and how the meaning of the word has evolved over time. Overlapping, projected Instagram Stories coalesced across the cityscape, creating an overarching narrative connecting the multitude of individual Stories represented within each window – from the first handprint on a cave wall to the videos we swipe through daily on our mobile phones.
The notion that “everyone has a story” remained central to the experience and was physically reflected in the immersive nature of the capsule, demonstrating that “stories are everywhere.” Each Story represented the breadth of the most impactful Stories being shared on the platform from Fall 2017 to the start of the 2018 Cannes Lions Festival, balancing local and global content as well as opposing positions within social movements and powerful causes.
Instagram targeted the Cannes Lions community of advertising and creative leaders to showcase the inspirational enormity of human storytelling, and the growing popularity of Instagram Stories. Upon arriving at Facebook Beach, guests were greeted by the Instagram STORYSCAPE installation. Beginning in the queue, guests were teased with a gallery of messaging and a documentary video that established the artist’s vision and the societal importance of storytelling.
Once seated inside, guests “floated” over a reflecting pool, surrounded by a multilayered sculpture of a city. The shared Stories began to be revealed within the windows of the city, continuing across every surface with the help of projection mapping. The mirrored ceiling and walls enhanced the illusion, putting viewers at the center of these stories.
Beginning in February 2018, a multi-agency creative team in London spent over 5,000 hours crafting the dynamic cityscape. The physical structure housed 242 handcrafted windows; 8 speakers; 4 projectors; 53 monitors; mirrored walls and ceiling; a reflective pool floor; and a custom curved steel frame. The structure was specially built to be loaded by hand, transported to France, and set up on the beach in Cannes within a 48-hour build window.
Marrying the content of the Instagram Stories with set design, the projectors and display screens were used to precisely map the content across the physical cityscape installation set comprised of CNC building facades. Each piece was deliberately placed to drive impact and reflect properly in the mirrored ceilings, walls and reflecting pool below. Within the cityscape, the Stories danced from window to window, choreographed to the poignant storyline narrated by Es Devlin.
More than 8 hours of Instagram Stories were collected from around the world. Over 2,825 people attended STORYSCAPE and used the Stories platform to tell their own stories about the experience. Hundreds of the industry's top advertising, creative, entertainment, and marketing professionals shared posts about it, reaching beyond Cannes to a wider audience. It truly captured the attention of the entire industry; as Adweek wrote, “Instagram’s Gorgeous, Immersive Es Devlin Experience Is the Most Powerful Thing You'll See in Cannes.”
STORYSCAPE not only showcased the multifaceted storytelling alive on the platform, it made a powerful statement about the common humanity it represents. Instagram STORYSCAPE brought together a global community with a shared passion for storytelling, and served as an important reflection on the tech industry's growing role in culture and the society we’re creating together.