Original artwork

The Never-Ending Column

Encouraging lateral thinking with a vertical art piece

The Never-Ending Column is an ongoing art piece I create on Instagram, built one piece at a time since January 2019.

After being on Instagram for a while, I wanted to make something like the planned profile pages I had seen, where nine or more images come together in the page grid to form one larger image. I always liked the immersive nature of them, and bringing disparate parts together to form a whole always gave that "smile in the mind" effect. But there were two main drawbacks that I saw with these collages: one was that the larger image would only remain intact as long as the following posts came in sets of three, otherwise it would break apart; the other was that often the component images were uninteresting on their own, and clogged up my feed when all nine images were posted at once. I wanted to post things one at a time, avoid annoying my followers, and create content that could stand on its own.

Because of the three-wide grid of the profile page, posts will remained vertically aligned no matter what, unlike the 3x3 images which break apart if future posts aren't also in sets of three. Given this, I decided that a vertical format could satisfy my desire for creating art beyond the bounds of individual posts, while remaining small enough in scope to allow each individual piece to be enjoyable on its own.

The first or last entry in the Column, depending on how you view it

The format of the column and its piecemeal construction encourage lateral thinking. Each part has to work as a standalone piece, connect to what preceded it, and hint at what’s next, all while contributing to the larger overall image. Additionally, while I create the column from the bottom up, I have to keep in mind that the whole will primarily be experienced from the top down, and the audience will most likely encounter only component pieces in their feeds before clicking through to see the whole column. All of these considerations encourage me to think about each piece backwards, forwards, individually, and as part of a whole.

I’ve used the column to explore new styles and techniques, never settling on a single look for more than a few squares at a time. Some of the previous styles have ranged from paper collages, to film resolution test charts, to 80s-inspired abstracts. When I’ve chosen a new style, I’ll create a few frames at a time, then post them as needed. Where things get interesting is the transitions from one style to another. I’ve sometimes planned transitions several squares in advance, and other times decided to juxtapose styles by abruptly cutting from one to another. 

Creating the Never-Ending Column has allowed me to explore design and artistic territory I otherwise wouldn't have, and it's taught me a great deal. You can view the whole thing on my Instagram.