We are happy to present the next in our series of artist interviews here on Pixels—The Art of the iPhone. This week, Marco La Civita, whose work has brightened the site for a long time. We are certain many of you are acquainted with his vibrant pictures, as well as his generous involvement in the global iphonic art community. Without further ado …
KB: Marco, 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.
MLC: I was born in Italy where I lived until I graduated at the University of Rome. Then I moved to the US to get a Ph.D. I lived in Belgium for several years and now I am enjoying Madrid in Spain. One of the pleasant consequences of these changes is that I am fluent in 4 languages. I am currently working as a Guidance, Navigation, and Control scientist at Boeing Research and Technology Europe.
KB: How long have you been shooting pictures with your iPhone?
MLC: My first iPhone shot is dated 5th of May 2009.
KB: How often do you work on your art?
MLC: [laughs] This question depends on how you define art. The way I see it, an artist is a rare element in humanity. An artist sees what others don’t see, pushes the envelope, answers questions most of us don’t even know how or dare to pose. In that sense I am no artist, so the answer would be that I never work on my art. If by “art” we mean more “artisanry” then the answer is almost everyday. “Artisan” is an unfairly underrated word while the word artist is extensively over abused. I believe many presumptuously self-defined artists are no more than mediocre artisans.
KB: When did you get serious about it, and what was the turning point for you?
MLC: I didn’t get serious about it yet. And probably never will.
KB: What do you like to shoot? When? How does your whole creative process work? And how has it evolved?
MLC: I mainly focus on objects, architecture, strong contrasting colors, shapes and street art. My brain gets overloaded with signals whenever I start looking around. Having a camera allows me to “download” and fix all that visually interesting information on a medium. This process has evolved with the iPhone because I can “download” more frequently and with the apps I can underline what I think I saw and grabbed my attention in a particular scene.
KB: Do you work in any other creative mediums, i.e., painting, music, writing, etc.?
MLC: I have studied music for many years. I started with classical guitar when I was a child and end up having a rock band called “Sali e Tabacchi” when I was a teenager until the beginning of my college years. I wrote some songs and performed in live contests. I’d guess my 1974 Gibson SG is very out of tune right now, though … If you don’t exclude from the “creative activities” designing algorithms to teach a helicopter how to fly by itself, or to optimize aircraft trajectories, well I have done – and I am still doing – that too.
KB: Do you spend time online looking at the work of other iphontographic artists?
MLC: Yes of course. But the signal to noise is starting to worry me. I need to look at 100/200 images before finding one that doesn’t hurt my eyes. (Editor’s note: That is the reason Pixels—The Art of the iPhone exists!)
KB: Have you done a lot of traditional photography? If so, are you still using your camera as well as your iPhone?
MLC: Yes. I have a large amount of slides and digital pictures and I am still using my DSLR.
KB: Who are some artists – in any medium – you admire or have influenced you?
MLC: The list of artists that I admire in ANY medium would be too long. These are some of the ones I think pushed the envelope and had some influence on me: Balla, Boccioni, Enzo Ferrari, Chuck Yeager, Marinetti, Kerouac, Ayrton Senna, Fidia, Caravaggio, Tom Waits, J.B.J. Fourier, Dante Alighieri, Jimi Hendrix, Michelangelo, Ferran Adria, Valentino Rossi, The Edge, Linus Torwald, Santiago Calatrava, Werner Heisenberg, John McEnroe, Stanley Kubrick, and Rodchenko.
KB: What is your basic app kit, or Camera Bag, as Marty Yawnick calls it. How has your use of apps evolved over time?
MLC: Photogene mainly but also TiltShiftGen, CameraBag, and ShakeItPhoto. It has not evolved. These are among the first apps I have downloaded. I don’t like to modify too much an image especially with stuff like artificial textures.
KB: Are there any apps you don’t like?
MLC: Anything that doesn’t save at full resolution and Hipstamatic of course.
KB: Are there any specific improvements you would like to see made to existing apps?
MLC: I would like to be able to decide the quality of the jpeg encoding. This is important if you want to make good prints. Another thing I would like to see in apps like CameraBag is a single slider for every effect that would allow me to modulate between the original image and full effected one.
KB: Are there any apps you would like to see developed/invented?
MLC: Sure. One that gives you stock quotes one day ahead. Of course available only to me.
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?
MLC: It has never happened. And if it did I probably didn’t notice because I am not on a schedule. I don’t have any 365-52-whatever project. I don’t have to produce something on a deadline, it is not my work. I enjoy taking photos.
KB: What features would you like to see implemented at the Pixels At An Exhibition website?
MLC: Being able to be featured on it and considered for your coming exhibitions without having to post regularly on (yet another) website. I guess Pixels At An Exhibition could be fed also from a curated Flickr group beside by direct submission.
KB: A last word perhaps?
MLC: I have a secret to reveal to you. All the photo that I submitted to Pixels At An Exhibition and that you have featured were Photoshopped … just kidding ;)
KB: You are a very funny man, Marco. Thank you!
You can see Marco’s striking contributions to Pixels: The Art Of The iPhone by clicking here.
a great sense of humour is underrated as well.. loved reading this interview Marco!!
Really enjoyed this interview .
Artisan is an unfairly underrated word while the word artist is extensively over abused.
Great interview! Thank you!
"designing algorithms to teach a helicopter how to fly by itself" – that in itself is a most amazing gift to have. (I suck at math)
I find the comments on artitst vs artisan very interesting. That could be a great discussion topic.
Agree w/ CameraBag comment, and would add- option to crop or not… esp. w/Plastic filter.
Really like your images and metaphor in some of the titles.
Thank you, Knox! I had fun answering your questions. And thank you to all for the nice comments.
Grande Marco… simpatico e arguto! :)
Unique answers! Like your unique shots!
Congrats Marco : D
Great reading … thanks
Fantastic Marco – tellin' it like it is, I love the directness. Excellent interview!
Honesty is priceless, great answers Marco.