For users of the mobile image-messaging app Snapchat, expressiveness is largely mediated through in-built filters, described as lenses, and the extensive use of short pieces of text and emojis. It is also contingent upon the disappearance of the image after a set interval of time. The certainty these images will not be retained – that they will disappear from the recipient’s mobile device – sanctions a degree of liberty in what is sent between users. However, there is also a reciprocal level of trust, since despite the app itself having no feature to save an image, recipients are able to screen capture any images they receive. Should the recipient screen shot an image, the sender receives a notification that their image has been saved in a screen capture. Inevitably, this is likely to elicit a spontaneous reaction of despair, anguish and distress that there has been a breach of the code of disappearing images, implicit in Snapchat’s communication method.
What then is the purpose of an imaging application, which takes portraits that deliberately do not conform to the normative conventions of the human face?
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