Originally posted December 26, 2012. Oh those innocent days … :)
I know lots of P1xels artists enjoy Instagram. I’ve never had time for it, just as I’ve never had time for Flickr or Twitter. To tell the truth, the fundamental concept upon which P1xels was founded and built was to attract the best artists and bring their work out of the virtual world into the real world, i.e., galleries, museums, publications, homes and offices, in the form of printed pieces. We’ve done a pretty good job of that, so far. Still a ways to go, but it’s happening.
While I believe that Instagram is a fascinating phenomenon, wherein the possibilities for global community building and expression are endless, P1xels is the anti-Instagram. It remains the only curated iphonic art site on the web. I wish that were not so, but no one seems to have the desire, drive, and courage to make such a move. It’s a lot easier just to take note of whom is being featured on this site and feature them elsewhere.
The focus of P1xels has always been one artist, one image at a time. I would prefer to see a picture every two weeks from someone than one a day (or more). I have seen many who try to crank out one, two, three a day. I start tuning them out, to tell the truth. I’ve looked at, conservatively, fifty thousand images since launching P1xels three-years ago and I’ve seen every time how that rush to post dilutes an artist’s output and degrades the overall quality of his/her work. I often write to them and warn them. Some heed, some do not.
While many use Instagram to promote themselves, we have been promoting the whole medium and many artists from the beginning. Yes, Instagram stars … ah internet fame, so fleeting …
This is another area that makes P1xels very different from other sites: the personal connection. I cannot tell you how many times someone has sent me a picture and said “Will you please tell me what you think of this? I cannot get an honest opinion anywhere else.” Or how many times I’ve written to someone to suggest a way to make a good picture even better. I can count on one hand how many people have taken umbrage at that. Everyone else graciously accepted my suggestions, to the betterment of their work. (I was wrong one time: I suggested that to someone that she remove the sprocket-hole frame from an image; it actually was stronger with them, one of those rare times, so we went with the original.)
The collective dedication to excellence and artistic development, and the concurrent willingness to accept a critique, is unique here.
I would like to remind anybody who cares to listen that Ansel Adams said that “One great picture a month is a good crop.”
I understand Instagram is a social network before it is anything else and, as such, wonderful in its own way. But it pushes people to post and post often. Marketers use it as an advertising medium. Many images are not shot solely on “mobile devices,” i.e., phones, but rather other mobile devices known as cameras. As much of a social medium, it seems to be a marketing medium as well.
It’s not what P1xels is about, and never will be, beyond pushing the medium deeper into the Zeitgeist so that we can market some beautiful art to the public!
Earlier this year, I was interviewed for another site and they asked what I would like to say in closing. I’m going to cannibalize, and elaborate on, my response, because it is what I would like everyone to keep in mind as we enter the fourth year of the iphoneographic, aka iphonic art explosion.
I would say, in general, the biggest three mistakes artists make are:
- Trying too hard, not trusting themselves and the picture, usually manifested in over-apping an image. I know I say “App that bitch ‘til it sings,” but the corollary is “App as needed;” Look at your picture: it will tell you what it needs. You will know when you have it. If in doubt, you have gone too far. Nonetheless, experimentation is great. Picasso did sketches and studies for months before painting Desmoiselles d’Avignon.
- Wasting time on bad pictures. I’ve gotten hundreds of beautifully apped pictures of people shot from behind, for example, as well as all sorts of other boring pictures apped to perfection. The problem is, they are still boring. It actually hurts sometimes when I see this and I think, “Couldn’t you have gotten at least one face in there?” Don’t waste your time on boring pictures: you cannot app a bad picture into a good one most of the time, but everybody goes through that phase believing that at some point, including me.
- Rushing to post. Take your time. It is not a race! No one can make a great picture every day. Always be shooting! Be aware of the moment, where you are, of whom and what is around you: here you will find the eternal, fleeting moments of reality which will become the canvases through which you channel your vision. Pick the right image and bring forth its ephemeral beauty, not in haste, but in contemplation. We are doing visual magical realism. Fill your life with art, music, books, and like-minded people (yes, including Instagram if you want!). Be aware of your own dreams, thoughts, and inspirations: bring forth the vision that is unique to you, no matter the time and effort involved. Be aware of every pixel. Timeless trumps timely, always.
A little more music …
Cuna by Mompou as performed by Christopher Parkening, originally released in 1969. Cuna and Embryonic Journey, written and performed by Jorma Kaukonen of the Jefferson Airplane and included on their 1967 album, Surrealistic Pillow, are the two most wonderful solo guitar pieces of all time. Trust me on this, I am an expert!
You can start learning how to play it this very morning!
It’s guitar Sunday at Pixels.
“Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homeopape. When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it. It always gets more and more.”
“I see.” The girl regarded him uncertainly, not knowing whether to believe him. Not sure if he meant it seriously.
“There’s the First Law of Kipple,” he said. “‘Kipple drives out nonkipple.’ Like Gresham’s law about bad money. And in these apartments there’s been nobody here to fight the kipple.”
“So it has taken over completely,” the girl finished. She nodded. “Now I understand.”
“Your place, here,” he said, “this apartment you’ve picked–it’s too kipple-ized to live in. We can roll the kipple-factor back; we can do like I said, raid the other apts. But–” He broke off.
Isidore said, “We can’t win.”
“Why not?” […]
“No one can win against kipple,” he said, “except temporarily and maybe in one spot, like in my apartment I’ve sort of created a stasis between the pressure of kipple and nonkipple, for the time being. But eventually I’ll die or go away, and then the kipple will again take over. It’s a universal principle operating throughout the universe; the entire universe is moving toward a final state of total, absolute kippleization.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Early Days of Pixels and the Global iPhoneographic Art Movement Part 5 ~ Random images from 2010/2011
As often happens, I was looking for something on a hard drive and saw a folder labeled “Whitney.” It could only be Whitney McCleary, so I opened it up and found 90 or so pictures from 2010/2011. Sure enough! Whitney was a senior VP at Adobe who agreed back in 2011 to sponsor an exhibition of iphonic art by Pixels artists at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, PA. I had been working on this show for over a year at this point.
I guess I had assembled a collection of images for her and her associates to look at. I had already done an in-person presentation over in San Francisco and I’m not sure what this collection was for. Probably just reference.
So I though I would post a partial gallery of them. I remember some well, artist and title, some I recognize the artist but can’t recall the title, and some I do not recall at all, hence no attribution. Sorry! I’ll be posting more as we go.
And yes, I will be writing a detailed history of the Warhol show that was not to be, but we have a bunch of other stuff to cover before we get there.
In early 2010, things were just ramping up, the tsunami rising out of the Zeitgeist! My next written installment will be about the Giorgi show and its aftermath and the next one, the Oakbook Gallery Show in Oakland, that opened on May 15, 2010.
All these images came after the Oakbook show, so this is a little out of sequence, but I’m you won’t mind, since the work is so great.
I will be offering Official Monkey Blue Calendars by the end of the weekend. I am awaiting sample prints & trying to figure out pricing for both print (8.5″ x 11″) and digital versions. All shot on iPhone, of course!
Perfect gifts for the cat lovers in your life!
I took this from my car on a sunny Sunday afternoon in 2010, probably with my iPhone 2 in Berkeley, in front of Willard Junior High School on Telegraph Avenue, where I attended fifty-seven years ago!
I raced past them and up Telegraph to The Ave* official and parked in front of Moe’s Books and waited for them to pass by, so I could get a better shot of them, but I got this shot instead. Back in the sixties, the Hells Angels would line their choppers up and park perpendicular to the curb and hang out at Pepe’s Pizza, which was next door to the right of the Med.
And yes, I did clean up the image – sidewalk and the gutter – with the Touch Retouch app.
*Historically, “The Ave” was Telegraph Avenue between Dwight and Haste streets, one block which contained, back in the day, Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore, Moe’s Books, Yarmo clothing, the Forum Café (I met the owner decades later and he told me they made so much money that he and his wife would sometimes frolic on piles of cash on their bed), The Caffe Mediterraneum, The Blue Cue pool parlor (serious sharks), Pepe’s Pizza, Shambahla Metaphysical Bookstore and Lhasa Karnak Herbs and Essential Oils, Irv’s House of Leather, Cody’s Books, and the corner drugstore where I shoplifted my first copy of Playboy at age 14. I can still see Carol Doda in the “article” about SF’s North Beach. There were probable a couple other businesses on the block, but those I cannot recall, so many years ago.
That said, the term, “The Ave,” could also encompass the rest of Telegraph up the street from Haste on to Bancroft, where it dead-ended at the southern edge of the UC Berkeley Campus.