Spatio-temporal mapping of street art using Instagram

  • Christopher D.F. Honig University of Melbourne
  • Lachlan MacDowall University of Melbourne
Keywords: Instagram, street art, graffiti, mapping, cultural analytics, digital humanities, public space, urban art, city


By scraping metadata from Instagram images tagged with #MelbourneStreetArt, we are able to create geographical and temporal maps of street art in Melbourne, mediated through the collective eye of Instagram. Apart from merely identifying the most popular images, geo-tagged metadata allows us to create spatial heat maps to identify physical locations of high-image production. Caption data beneath the images allows us to search for high frequency words, which we use to identify patterns within the online audience’s relationship to street art. Finally by simply plotting out the number of images produced each day and cross-referencing with the corresponding caption data, we are able to identify historically significant events within Melbourne’s street art culture. The analysis is easy to use, even for a researcher with minimal programming experience and can be used to project cultural trends (beneath any hashtag) or as a tool to navigate historical Big Data within a conservation context.

Author Biographies

Christopher D.F. Honig, University of Melbourne

Lecturer, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Melbourne

Centre for Cultural Partnerships, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne

Lachlan MacDowall, University of Melbourne
Research Associate, Research Unit for Public Culture, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne
How to Cite
Honig, C. D., & MacDowall, L. (2017). Spatio-temporal mapping of street art using Instagram. First Monday, 22(3).