Copyright © 2017 by IAM BURN. 

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Spanish Flu Now

In 1918, a Spanish flu pandemic infected one third of the world’s population. It killed over 50 million people (some estimates are 100 million), affecting young people disproportionately. If the Spanish flu were to hit today, its impact would be seen in detail across numerous social media platforms.

 

Spanish Flu Now was a project which used Instagram to explore how a global pandemic would be reflected in today’s world of youth and web culture. The project ran alongside Contagion, a dance installation from acclaimed choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh which was part of the 14-18 Now project.

I accurately researched Spanish Flu and used this information to help to tell the story of Nathan, a food delivery bicycle courier from Sunderland. His story was one of six characters from the UK caught up in this new pandemic. Each story had foundations in historical truths but was reimagined by tapping into how Instagrammers present themselves and how they tell narratives through selfies, filters, hashtags and emojis.

The story of Nathan played out over several weeks in real-time on his Instagram feed. Nathan’s story showed how much he was relied upon; how hard things were but his personality is one of positivity. He refused to let it get the better of him, though sometimes that proved hard for him. His day-to-day life is shown to the masses via Instagram. In a time of national crisis, social media plays an integral part.

Here is a selection of the images I created for this project. You can see the full story of Nathan here: https://www.spanishflunow.com/nathan

You can also read an interview I did about the project with NARC Magazine here: https://narcmagazine.com/feature-iam-burn-my-inspiration/