P1xels Comes Home to the Giorgi Gallery
September 22–—October 30, 2011
Here is my intro to the new issue. You can review and buy the issue here!
“Much of the beauty that arises in art comes from the struggle an artist wages with his limited medium.”—Henri Matisse
I sit, as I write, in the Giorgi Gallery of Berkeley, surrounded by works I love from P1xels’ artists around the world. It is Sunday afternoon. The sun is shining outside, obscured every so often by an errant wisp of cloud; a slight breeze pushes fresh air through the gallery and the music of Erik Satie, patron saint of P1xels, completes the perfection of the moment.
What usually happens at moments like this is I fall asleep in the chair, only to be awakened by people entering the gallery. Today I must finish this issue of P1XELS, so I am going to cheat a little.
I look at the pictures and I think about how far the global iphonic art movement has come in less that two years, in terms of the work, the community itself, awareness and acceptance in the public consciousness, and the promise of the future.
Little did I know what forces were being unleashed at the end of 2009 with the call for submissions for our first show. The timing couldn’t have been better: iphonic art had just emerged from its infancy online and the work was ready to be printed and put on the wall, or so it seemed to us. It’s been a runaway train ever since.
Here are some answers to an interview I did for a large Hong Kong lifestyle magazine recently. Since it will be published in Chinese, I don’t think they will mind me publishing excerpts in English here. I leave it to you, dear reader, to guess the questions.
In 2009, I started taking pictures with my iPhone of my cat, Baby, for her website http://babysnohelp.com. In October I discovered two apps, ToyCamera and Best Camera, and started taking pictures of everything. I showed the apps to Maia Panos and she started making beautiful pictures very different from mine – her picture “Tree” was incredible – and it occurred to me that we were dealing with a new artistic medium. I was friends with Rae Douglass at the Giorgi Gallery in Berkeley. I proposed a show of iPhone photography and he said yes. We were off and running.
We’ve done a number of shows since and the work produced by the community just keeps getting better. I have witnessed the reaction of people to the prints hundreds of times and they love the work and cannot believe that such beautiful and striking images are created on the little iphone.
People said photography was not art 100 years ago. People said digital photography was not art thirty years ago. And now they are saying this is not art, or dismissing the work as “push-button Monets.” In my experience, most people who are threatened by the movement are usually people in the photography/art world who are simply jealous of the attention the new work is getting.
It is indeed art. It is beautiful and vibrant work. As I said, I have observed, closely, people taking in the work (more than any other person on earth I am certain) and reacting viscerally to the aliveness and beauty of it all, over and over.
I know artists who work on one picture for a week, or more, on their iphones. I can tell you, from my deep connections within the global iphonic art community, as well as my lifelong study of art and art movements, that this community of artists is filled with people as passionate, talented, disciplined, and crazy as any other art movement or milieu in history, i.e., the Left Bank of Paris in the twenties, the jazz scene of New York city, or the Beats in San Francisco …
I lean toward it being a new medium, an emergent and still-underground art form. It starts with a digitally captured image, so it is photography in that sense, but by the time the artists are finished with apping the image, it often looks more like a painting than a photograph.
If you walked into any exhibit we have produced and looked at the art on the walls, you would not immediately think it was a photographic exhibition: they look more like prints, silkscreens, paintings, mixed in with a few photographs.
That wasn’t the whole interview. I can go on about iphonic art for hours. I have been living and breathing it every single day for almost two years now. It is a constant joy as I have gotten to know these artists around the world and have watched the community and the work it produces evolve and grow. We are still at the beginning.
Okay, the lazy man can nap now.
*A note about this being a new issue – about two-thirds of the images were also in the last issue, the OCCCA edition, and then about twenty five or thirty were added from artists who have joined us on P1xels in the last four or five months. Where the OCCCA show had about 140 images, we removed approximately half of the images – by non-P1xels regulars – and added the new.