We inaugurate a new feature at Pixels At An Exhibition, artist interviews, with a chat with one of our favorite artists, Ale Di Gangi, who, as most of you know, is a regular contributor here at Pixels and was one of our first featured artists. We will be publishing interviews every week with the pioneers of this new medium.
KB: Please tell us a little about yourself – where you live, if you hail from Earth, anything like that. Whatever you feel like sharing that isn’t covered in the questions below.
ADG: I was born in January 1966 in Firenze, one of the most widely known and visited cities of the whole universe. I still live there because
it feels like home to me. Visual arts as well as music were running in the family but nothing was done to educate me on these, so I had to do it all by myself after I went at the University and got a life of my own, discovering things and following instincts. I started dealing with writing, music, visuals at 19 through fellow students who already were artists, and with the years I have found a bit about my interests, eye – and style.
Hopefully much is yet to be found, though!
KB: How long have you been shooting pictures with your iPhone?
ADG: It all starts on January the 15th, 2009. On that very day I came to realize the iPhone camera would actually produce interesting output and not at the cpmplete garbage I was expecting… for at least six months I had refused to use it as I was sure results would be as disappointing as those of obnoxious Nokia’s.
When I first stumbled on QuadCamera and CameraBag, they took me by such surprise I could not stop shooting.
KB: How often do you work on your art?
ADG: Every moment of my waking time, and sometimes in my sleep as well. It just can’t stop: I see photos and I take them. I have spent manyyears of my life now bringing with me at least one camera – often more! – at all times, and the iPhone has somehow “liberated” me… and I’m talking about size and weight.
KB: When did you get serious about it, and what was the turning point for you?
ADG: I should say I was always serious about it, since I was born: my father used to be a very good and passionate photographer but since he was… “expecting” me to pick up on his interests, I just refused to. Until I gave up and admitted I had some kind of a photographic eye and it needed to be brought out. Then, I got really serious when I found out about Lomos and Holgas, Polaroids and all that stuff, and that happened around my 30s.
My father has been a huge part of my education of the eye, since I was brought up by a Leica man who would shoot photos and 8mm films all the time in front of and around the family. Funnily enough, when I started getting into photography, I called him and he told me he quit and sold all his equipment!
KB: What do you like to shoot? When? How does your whole creative process work? And how has it evolved?
ADG: I tend to shoot pretty much what I see, whenever and wherever, and I cannot plan or stage at all. I just am not that kind of photographer.
Photos “happen” to me and I might be defined as an “instant photographer”, meaning that I shoot when a photo gets in my sight: I see it, I stop, frame, shoot, then leave.
Those rare times when an idea comes to my mind, it’s usually with people: I then turn into some kind of a tyrant, even asking for weird poses and not giving up until I get what I have in mind. A couple of times friends defined it as “painful”!
But this can only last a few moments, and it’s either good at first shot or gone forever.
I like shooting in the street (especially candid), details, places, shapes and colours. I have a taste for skies – and living in Italy certainly helps a lot as we have the most beautiful light and clouds here…
But I am not able to see panoramas, I just don’t have the eye for it. As for evolution… apart from my father, Flickr did a huge lot for me: I learnt so much by looking at what others I admire are posting, day by day. I owe it in huge part to these people.
KB: Do you work in any other creative mediums, i.e., painting, music, writing, etc.?
ADG: I have been doing lots of different stuff and I still do many things now and then, as if according to some kind of personal urge. I make short films and minimal videos: a 3 minute short was featured at the 2009 Cannes Film festival short section. I used to write poems and song lyrics when I was younger: I released a book in my early 20s and got featured on a few poetry papers. I used to have a tiny indie band and sing: we released a few albums on indie labels and got distributed in Europe, US and Japan as well. I did some postal art. Ihave been a web designer… but I can’t paint or draw, even though my grandparents, uncle and mum used to be known as painters and makers of stained-glass windows.
KB: Do you spend time online looking at the work of other iphontographic artists?
KB: Yes indeed, I have so many iphontographers contacts on Flickr, and there’s always more to find.
KB: Do you study other art forms?
ADG: My full time job steals most of my time. What remains is dedicated to my own art, even though I am always interested in “studying” new things that attract me, of course.
KB: Have you done a lot of traditional photography? If so, are you still using your camera as well as your iPhone?
ADG: I still am doing film, and digital too. I am still completely in love with my Polaroid cameras, I like having a proper camera in my hands. It’s all a matter of mood and what I feel like doing; often in the morning before I leave home I slip cameras in my bag according to the feeling of the moment.
KB: Who are some artists – in any medium – you admire or have influenced you?
ADG: I should say I have been influenced by periods more than names. See, I was born in the mid 60s in Italy and I had the chance of breathing the air then; I took conscience during the 70s, when Art was still an everyday part of lives thanks to the best designers: we had Brionvega tv sets, just to make an example, where I used to watch tv every night in the living room. Everything then still had a certain “style”.
Of course I could name you a rather eclectic list of artists I love and cherish, from Pontormo to my own grandads, from Italian TV serials of the early 70s (they used to produce such amazing stuff, you wouldn’t believe it!) to Pizzicato Five and Dior and the Spacemen3 and fascist architecture (*only that*!) and French cinema… I could go on for ages.
KB: What is your basic app kit, or Camera Bag, as Marty Yawnick calls it. How has your use of apps evolved over time?
ADG: Lately I am completely taken by Hipstamatic. It fascinates me so much I just can’t let go of it and I dream of updates and features I would really, really need to see implemented!
I absolutely love CameraBag (both on the iPhone and on desktop), TiltShiftGen, ShakeIt, Lo-Mob, PhotoForge and CameraKit. These are definitely my faves.
It’s an ongoing evolution, I’m checking pretty much all apps I can find and seeing what can appeal to my taste and style. Hipstamatic is uncomparable though.
KB: Are there any apps you don’t like?
ADG: Oh, so many… but I tend to forget about them once I delete them. I hate it when an app uses low resolution. I understand that the average user may not even be interested in good resolution and how difficult it might be to develop an app – but to me this is a key point.
I should also say I love SwankoLab but it’s too slow for my taste, I can’t remember what each chemical does and how, so I’m not using it much. As I said, I am “instant”.
KB: Are there any specific improvements you would like to see made to existing apps?
ADG: Lo-Mob is almost perfect now, especially on the framing side.
TiltShiftGen might start sporting some more manipulability on the blur, but it’s so good for everything else…
I *really* hope to see Hipstamatic let you edit photos taken with other apps, choose films/lenses after the shot, be a bit faster on the printing process so I can shoot faster.
KB: Are there any apps you would like to see developed/invented?
ADG: Oh please let me have Lightroom on the iPhone! Hahaha… An app that lets you use a proper automatic exposure setting, just like Lomo cameras: real auto exposure. That’s my fave feature in analog cameras.
KB: When you feel you have reached a creative stalemate, and believe your work is not cutting it anymore, do you have any tricks for breaking out of artist’s block?
ADG: Generally, no. I just wait. It’s happened to me before, and now I know it is not the end. I will take a break, rest my mind, let it flow… and it will come back sooner or later. It feels rather uncomfortable, though.
KB: What features would you like to see implemented at the Pixels At An Exhibition website?
ADG: Managing my photos would be totally great: being able to upload in batches, eventually delete them, simple stuff, nothing too advanced technologically. And having the possibility to leave comments on other photographers’ works, definitely. Having a feedback from other photographers is the best way to get a more detached eye to what you’re doing. I cannot think of a better way to help a fellow photographer. (Ed. note: these features coming very soon!)
KB: Thank you, Ale!