Phone fun — Phone art

On: October 10, 2011
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About Urszula Jurgiel
After doing my BA in Sociology and MA in International Management I decided to study something more related to my interests. Working for over a year as a journalist for a fashion magazine gave me an opportunity to see how media actually look like from the other side and assured me that this is something that I want to do in the future. I believe that MA in New Media at UvA is a great chance on my way to make it happen. A former dancer, still in love with all kinds of dance, music and theater as well as with good magazines, biographies and photographies. Sport enthusiast, most recently interested in surfing, longboarding and of course cycling in Amsterdam.


With the help of Internet and what follows it, with the help of social media and mobile phones development, today many people percieve themselves as artists. What we can easily observe is that the form of artistic creativity which became very popular last years is photography. Every month around 2,5 bilion pictures are uploaded on Facebook. There is no chance to go to a party and not to end up with at least one picture taken which the next day will be uploaded on Facebook. Either your friends will do that or a stranger working for the club as a photographer. Some of the pictures uploaded on Facebook are just very bad quality pictures from parties or holidays but definiately not all of them.

This is way we should not be misunderstanding two things. With a mobile phone  also something good, what actually deserves to be called art can be done. In Japan many people traveling everyday long time to their work started writing blogs, short stories or even books on their phones. Suprisingly, many of them are now bestsellers. This proves that mobile phone can wake up artistic part of us which we could have never been aware of.

Phone cameras are becoming better and better as the phones themselves. Phone art is becoming so popular that there are more and more exhibitions presenting pictures taken with mobile phones and even contests of mobile photography are organised. It’s easy to find websites dedicated to phone-art, most of them of course with photographies. Some artists claim that today too much emphasis is put on the technological advancements of digital media and not on the art itself. This is why they try to express themselves with simple, more primitive devices. It’s the photographer eye which is important and this is why in their opinion pictures taken with phone might be even more valuable than the ones taken with traditional cameras. It’s really incredible what the future might bring and how art can develop with the help of mobile phones.

A friend of mine who is studying graphic design at Rietveld Academy got a brief at his school to think of tools for designing other than Adobe software. It is so obviuos when you are studying graphic design to use Photoshop or Illustrator that they wanted students to think of different programmes or devices.
This is why he joined a group of 6 guys from 5 different countries who started blog. The creators, Daniel Littlewood and Hugon Guillaume met online when they found each others work on flickr. It turned out that they were doing the same thing- posting artwork which they were creating on their phones. At first they came up with the blog idea in order to collect their “phone creations” how they like to call it. Another guys interested in their work and doing the same kind of art had joined them later. The main idea was to use unusual, not commonly used medium for design purposes.

Phoneart contributors wanted to create another way of experiencing familiar art that would not be entirely visual. Internet at the begining was a  place used mostly for contemporary artists in order to show their work and ideas. So far most of Daniel’s projects and ideas have been based on the interactive and digital side of design. There is something interesting for him in taking a visual item, breaking it into code from ones computer, sending it through the internet, so that later it can be decoded and visualized on the monitor of someone elses computer half way around the world.

All the images on the website are phone-sized and they were all made with a number of different phone applications. This form of art is characterized by temporality. These are not images on which guys were working for a long time. They are not always thinking a lot about the image which they are creating and they don’t keep on improving it. Still, it doesn’t mean that these images were not thought through. Phonearts bloggers are very modest and they don’t want people to see their art as something extraordinery. They don’t want to bring a false philosophy into it. Their main goal is to create spontanoeous and reactionary art on a mobile device. Phonearts blog is also a place where they can communicate. New ideas are coming to their mind almost every minute and they want to share them and surprise with them. This is why it’s rather impossible to search for a deeper meaning of their creations. Anyway it’s great to see how they influence each other while observing the new images which are being posted everyday.

The phonearts blog contributors are often using well recognized art which they later interpret. They know that what they do might seem boring and that maybe still something what would make it more interesting for the viewers is missing.They want to see what it might bring in the future and how it can influence their future creations. So far whenever they have time or they see something what inspires them, they just use their iPhone application to express it. Having fun is  what they are mainly interested in. Having fun and experimenting, so basically what art should be about.

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