For anyone who wants to augment his or her iPhone photos, there's an app for everything — except mounting them in a gallery.
Daria Polichetti and Nathaniel Park, co-founders of the artists' community and sharing platform iPhoneArt.com, decided to take up that task. The pair collected the iPhone-created, iPad-created and other digitically-created works of 160 artists from 30 countries for the LA Mobile Arts Festival, running until August 25 at the Santa Monica Art Studios. In addition to the exhibition, artists can attend iPhone photography workshops and panel discussions to hone their high-tech craft.
“Thirty percent of people in the show are professional artists and photographers,” Park said. “Then there are regular people who go about their daily lives, using mobile apps.”
There are no Hipstamatic sunsets, thankfully. “Iphonographers” sometimes use over a dozen apps to layer, texture, collage, and distort a single image. The resulting works span from Technicolor hyperreality to pure abstraction. There are close-up flowers — the favorite of Instagrammers everywhere, but much cleaner — adapted selfies, and even a few old-fashioned landscapes, filtered through only a couple apps. Polichetti and Park printed photos onto bamboo panels, mirrors, glass and even a bay window and a car, dividing the works into themed rooms like the Botanical Garden, where a “Bird Photobooth” snaps speedy pictures of feeding birds, and the Olde Curiosity Shoppe.
The latter, with its heavy rug, a wingback chair, and rickety woodwork, looked like an outtake from the Museum of Jurassic Technology, except with an iPad blinking from a headless mannequin. The haunted, fading pictures looked like ancient daguerreotypes, the objects crammed together cabinet-of-curiosities style.
“We're taking something very modern and using that to look backward at the origins of photography,” Polichetti said.
Polichetti, who is also a trained photographer of the old-fashioned variety, liked pointing out that photography itself was not quickly accepted as an art. Film wasn't either, and reproduction set a generation of philosophers, critics, and artists arguing before printmaking and editions of works won acceptance. But the iPhone and iPad make art particularly easy — and inexpensive — to create, reproduce and show.
“I couldn't draw a straight line to save my life,” said Bob Weil, one of the featured artists. “But I know how to compose an image. These tools that are now available have allowed me to discover something within myself and express it.”
Adria Ellis agreed. A photographer before she was an iPhonographer, Ellis came to hate her old art.
“The more equipment I got, the less I shot,” she said. “It wasn't fun anymore. My creative spirit died.”
That was 15 years ago. Ellis now takes 100 photos a day with one click, wherever she goes, including to the opening of her own show.
“I've seen so many people in here taking pictures of this floor,” she said, looking down at the blue-brown speckles. “We want the texture.”
Ellis, who co-created the bay-window-mounted installation, uses natural light and neutral backdrops and only a few apps, like Cameramatic, Iris, and ScratchCam. She uses no attachable lenses. (She lost the only one she tried to use and promptly gave up.) At opening night of the festival, she pulled her iPad out of her bag to show the “before” version of one of her exhibited works and, using the app Diptic, one of the sponsors of the show, juxtaposed it with the final version. (See the image above.)
Slipping the device back into her purse, she said, “My entire office and every single thing I need to do for my work is right here.”
Santa Monica Art Studios, 3026 Airport Ave., Santa Monica. Sat., Aug. 18, 7-10 p.m.; exhibit runs thru Aug. 25, noon-6 p.m.; free. iphoneart.com.