The iPhoneography movement is still quite underground. Thanks to proponents like Knox Bronson, iPhoneography is an emerging global art revolution. Knox was the first and second person ever to hold a brick and mortar iPhoneography exhibition allowing for others like EYE’EM and The MMS to successfully launch their own exhibitions. Not only does Knox host the Pixels website but also contributes by creating his own masterpieces. Knox was kind enough to share his thoughts with us in a Q&A.
Q: Tell me about yourself? Where are you from? Hobbies?
A: I hail from Berkeley, California, have lived in Hawaii, Los Angeles, San Francisco at various periods in my life, but am back home in the East Bay now. I’m not sure I have any hobbies anymore. I finally came to terms with being an artist about seventeen years ago and, as such, all my energy and time has since gone into creative pursuits. I’ve spent many years in music, composing and arranging, writing songs. I’ve done live shows as a singer and have four cds on iTunes, both vocal work and electronic/orchestral instrumental work. I wrote a novel, Flapping, you can find on Amazon. It is very strange, funny, and, in parts, beautiful. I’ve never allowed commercial considerations to color or shape my work and the marketplace has responded in kind.
Q:How did you get into iPhoneography?
A: I have a cat, Baby, who is really crazy. I made a blog for her, http://babysnohelp.com – you can find the song “Baby’s No Help” on there, btw – and got obsessed with posting daily pictures. One day, I discovered an app, BestCam, and that did it: I was off and running. Did I mention obsessed? It got worse after that. All of a sudden I was taking pictures of everything. I’m afraid BabysNoHelp.com began to suffer. As has my music, I’m afraid.
Q: What does iPhoneography mean to you?
A: It is a mistake, though an easy one to make, to compare iPhontography solely to traditional photography. It is a new medium, which simply begins with the photographic process. I’m not quite sure how everything fits together, but i believe it is also a new form of printmaking, as evidenced with the beauty of the prints we have exhibited in the gallery shows. I have had the privilege to see the reaction – wonder and delight – to the artwork by the public, over and over in the shows we’ve done. And the global network, the sharing and instant cross-pollination within the community, is a huge part of the phenomenon, as well, although I have no ready ideas to assign to the philosophical or cultural significance of this aspect.
The iPhone IS a simple, limited, almost awful camera, which is part of its great allure for me personally. But I also love the apps. Almost every iPhoneographer I like has a “toolkit” of apps he or she favors. Marty Yawnick, who had three pictures in the show, and flew out from Dallas for the opening, calls it his “camera bag.”
So the images we see are not manipulated as those in advertisements, or fashion magazines, or playboy, to SELL something, but rather to bring out the greater truth of the image for the artist – and this is where, after the initial shot is taken (Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment,” anyone?), the artist’s personality emerges.
Aside from my musical and novelistic aspirations, I held, as a lifelong student of the arts, a secret desire to create artistic images but lacked the ability to actually draw and I have never had the necessary zeal to pursue traditional photography, so iPhoneography was and is an answer to an unspoken prayer.
(Late For Brunch)
Q: How did the idea for PixelsAtAnExhibition.com come about?
A: I showed BestCam to Maia (Panos), whose amazing work you can find on Pixels, and she began making pictures. Then we discovered ToyCamera. And then a few more apps. But I looked at what I was doing and then at what she was doing and they were so different – she had a totally different vision she was expressing using the same minimal tools and it hit me that we were exploring a new art form. I was friendly with Rae Douglass at the Giorgi Gallery in Berkeley and proposed a gallery show of iPhoneography, he said yes and we decided on the month of February. I built the website in early December 2009 and put out a call for submissions and they began coming in from all over the world. And so it began.
Q: Are you surprised by the growing success of the OakBook exhibition?
A: Not at all. This is an art form people respond to on a visceral, emotional level. These are not conceptual artworks, not doodles, not hipster decoupage, no irony, no spray paint, no science experiments, but rather personal statements, vibrant and full of life, that tell a story and reveal the artists behind the images. People cannot help but respond to that.
Q: You and Pixels have set a standard for what constitutes iPhoneography. How do feel about those who say iPhoneography should be able to be taken out of the iPhone to a computer for post processing?
A: As I said, the medium is defined by the iPhone itself: dealing with the limitations of the camera and lens, the tiny screen, the buggy apps that crash and you lose everything you’ve been laboring over. I work with Photoshop every day, in my job, and I know what can be done. If you want to get into processing images on a computer, then the iPhone is just shtick and I suggest you get a real camera and be a “real” photographer. I know how hard it is to work on images on the phone. I know how hard Maia Panos, Jon Betts, and some other artists work using only the phone to create their absolutely beautiful works of magical realism.
I’d like to also mention that I was asked many times during the shows if there was any computer manipulation involved and they were always happy (and intrigued) to learn that images were done only on the iPhone.
(I’ve Been Thinking About My Yesterdays)
Q: By looking at your recent personal iPhotos one can say they are very saturated with color. Am I right in saying this? How would you describe your style?
A: I like color, obviously. I took a lot of acid in the sixties – and I loved the whole psychedelic art thing. But I can do a sharp black and white also … it depends on the image. I like to think the image tells me what it needs. I love to experiment with the medium. I find it meditative.
Q: Can you recall the first iphoto you took that made you go WOW, I really got something here!?
A: I think it was the first picture I took with Best Cam…
Q: Who or what are your artistic influences?
A: Obviously Andy Warhol. Vincent Van Gogh. The Impressionists. Man Ray. The whole psychedelic era of the sixties. The Beatles. David Bowie. Donovan and Brian Eno (pre-U2 era). Henri Cartier-Bresson. French cinema. Asian woodcuts. Erik Satie, the composer, is the patron saint of Pixels At An Exhibition.
Q: What has been the some of the challenges of using the iPhone as a camera?
A: Well, I have a 3G, so I don’t have the touch-focus, so I often can’t get shots where there is bright light in the background, i.e., the sky, and I am trying to shoot something in the foreground. The lens is always problematic of course. But I LOVE working with the limitations of the iPhone. I worry about the camera getting too good, how it might affect our work. And learning how to work with the limitations has been a joy, how to frame a picture. I’m always trying new things to see if I can get a shot. Usually I can’t, but that’s okay – it’s all part of the journey.
Q: What has been the most surprising or most predictable reaction from people to your iPhotographs?
A: I am in a unique position since I have the site and have done the shows where I could see first hand how people react to the pictures. The one phrase I have heard over and over is “I can’t believe these were done with an iPhone!” I have never doubted the validity of the art form for a moment. I question those who cheapen it with contests and allowing computer manipulation. I know that I am not alone in these sentiments.
What has surprised me is the growth and development of the art within the community at such an amazing rate, watching a group of visionaries emerge from the pack. It has been incredible. I knew it would happen, but I didn’t think we would get so far so fast. Every day I get to see new work from around the world that truly excites me. And have the privilege of sharing it on Pixels.
Q: What’s in your iPhone camera bag (apps)? Which one do you currently use the most often?
A: Well, I always have a soft spot for ToyCamera, but it’s kind of unpredictable, isn’t it? I use LoFi a lot, Perfectly Clear, Effect Touch, LoMob. TiltShift Generator, PhotoForge, DXP … the list goes on.
Q: What other thoughts would you like to share?
A: I love all the artists who submit their work to Pixels. I am a true fan of their work, from the street photography of Dixon Hamby and Suzan Kennedy to the magical and abstract realms of Maia Panos and Jon Betts and everybody in between. I am on a mission to bring these artists to a much wider audience. Myself, too, of course. It is great to be a part of this still-underground movement and community.
(Cleared for Landing)
For more on Knox check out these links:
All images shown here are copyrighted property of Knox Bronson, please contact Knox for copyright privileges.
© 2010 iPhoneogenic