I’m very excited to have a special double feature here on iPhoneogenic. It deals with two gallery openings that went down this weekend. First up, the MMS Gallery in Philly, opened Thursday. The opening event was covered by a friend of the blog, Jana Shea and her husband Bas Slabbers. The Duo were very kind to take time out and produce a video interview with Kenny Kim, one of the founders of the MMS Gallery, for iPhoneogenic and you the readers. Second, I traveled west of Houston to the city of Austin to attend the artist reception at Studio2Gallery. The “App-aritions” exhibition opened on Saturday. While at the opening I was fortunate enough to catch up with Tina Weitz, artist, curator, and gallery owner.
Read past the jump to view the interviews and photos of each exhibition…
MMS Gallery: Architecture
This past Thursday evening, the MMS Gallery in Philadelphia held an opening reception for their second exhibition, themed “Architecture.” What makes the MMS Gallery so special is that it is the first, and to my knowledge, the only gallery space SOLELY DEDICATED to mobile phone photography. In keeping with Philadelphia’s DIY ethic and innovative spirit, the gallery was founded last year by Kenny Kim and Hilary Sedgwick as a means to showcase what they recognized as a relevant and emerging art form. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kenny Kim for iPhoneogenic.
JS: It’s really great what you guys are doing. I think you might be the only people who are doing it in Philadelphia.
KK: As far as we know… we’re the only people doing it in Philadelphia. I think we started it just in time. It’s snowballed since we started it – like iPhoneography, especially, as a term wasn’t around when we thought of the gallery. It’s kind of interesting.
JS: What were you thinking when you first started the gallery?
KK: What we were thinking was that we noticed that most people weren’t carrying cameras around with them anymore, and it seemed like everyone that we knew was taking photos with their phones and posting them on Facebook, tweeting them and stuff like that. And it just started… we kind of asked ourselves, “Why isn’t taking pictures with your phone a more respected medium?”, you know what I mean? Because the photos that were coming up with after apps like ToyCamera, Hipstamatic and stuff like that – all of a sudden photos were getting so much better. And then the megapixels of the phones, in general, they were getting more powerful. So… it’s like, why wouldn’t somebody recognize this as a medium? And so we figured we’ll start a gallery so that, rather than complain about nobody doing it, you know, just be pro-active and do it!
JS: And the success of your first show is what led to this show?
KK: That one – we were shocked! We were really shocked. At the same time we had a little bit of PR help. O3 World was looking for a gallery. We were like, “Well, we have an idea…’” and so we pitched them the idea and they loved it. And so they’ve actually been able to facilitate a lot of the stuff that we weren’t able to do on our own.
JS: Do you both work for O3?
KK: I don’t work for O3, but Hilary does, which is how it all came together. They had a partner who did PR for us for that first show – so there was a lot more publicity, but since then… now it’s all been through the “Twitterverse” and social media networks. People are just passing word around.
JS: People are very excited about it, that’s for sure!
KK: It seems that way! That’s the best part. The last few days, once we started getting to the home stretch, we started seeing people tweet and especially once Hilary put out the poster it was all of a sudden, “I’m in the show!” [cheers]. And that is the best part, it really is, because the the whole thing was…one, to highlight the cellphone as an art vehicle and to also make it attainable – to make gallery shows and being an artist and things of that nature attainable.
With this I feel that anyone can take a really nice photo – because it’s all about having your phone on you – and capturing those moments. So, the storytelling is a little bit more impromptu and you don’t have to be “an artist” to capture it, you know what I mean? But then you see the people who do take it very seriously and who take stunning, stunning photos which are blowing us away.
JS: What was the selection process? Can you tell me more about that?
KK: The selection process really is just personal opinion at this point. We haven’t implemented any kind of voting or anything like that onto the site, just because the development and stuff that goes into that is a little much for us right now.
JS: So for the selection, is it just you and Hilary who make the decisions?
KK: It’s just me and Hilary and there’s been a lot of… like, sometimes we’ll get into arguments because we’ll have differences of opinion but, generally speaking, I think when we get our final list and hold it up we’re both in pretty solid agreement.
JS: How has the reaction to be towards mobile phone photography? Have you found it is being more accepted?
KK: I think it is.
JS: What is the reaction from the people coming into the gallery – the general public – when they see the photos?
KK: First, people come in and they’re kind of shocked that it’s mobile phone photography. If you just look at the logo and things of that nature you’re not going to get a whole lot of insight just by Masterpieces Made Simple that it is a mobile phone [photography] gallery. Because of that, people come in with the expectation that they’re looking at something that is way Fine Art. They come in and they’re like, “Oh, what is this?” and they ask questions, and they find out. That’s always a nice feeling when they find out what it is, because they’ve been so impressed by the shots on the wall in the first place that all of a sudden it no longer matters what the medium was.
JS: Do you have any particular favorites from the show?
KK: I didn’t have any one favorite. I think the one we put in the newsletter was our sentimental favorite.
Once we started following people, we started realizing just how big this is getting and how enthusiastic and passionate people are becoming about this as an art form. It’s wonderful! I just love how anyone can do it, anyone can get inspired with it. It’s so much easier to learn because you’re not worried about some of the technical details of being a photographer.
JS: It brings back the play…
KK: Yeah! It’s more fun and because it’s digital you’re not worried about wasting a shot. People are just shooting all the time.
JS: What’s in store for the future?
KK: Well, we basically came to an agreement with O3 to do four shows in this space. Our next show, I believe, is going to be: Food. Because the other phenomenon we started noticing with mobile phone photography in general, was that people were always taking pictures of food and we kind of wanted to bring the two together. But because we know people don’t like being restricted, I think as we go… maybe our 4th show might be back to the original show.
JS: Of “Anything Goes”?
KK: Yeah… Anything Goes.
JS: Would you feature solo shows from those who stand out from the submissions you’ve received or anything such as that?
KK: That’s probably a bit down the line. There are a few people that have been in both shows that just, as far as iPhoneography goes, are really, really passionate and strong advocates of it – and also for our gallery have been there since day one, blogging about us, kind of helping us out as far as getting word of the gallery out. Those people – the early adopters – I feel like maybe we could give then a show sometime, but, like I said, that’s a little bit down the line. We really do like the idea of it being open to everybody – and everybody from someone who’s in art school, to someone’s who’s actually a photographer, to the mom with three kids whose just shooting her kids all day… you know what I mean? There’s something novel and just nice about that.
See the entire photo slide-show here
The mobile phone photography exhibit, “Architecture” is located at The MMS Gallery, 1000 N. Hancock Street Philadelphia, PA 19123 and will be open through the next few months. The gallery’s hours are Monday-Friday 9a-6p and by appointment only on weekends.
“App-aritions” is an invitational exhibition which features four professional photographers turned moble photographers. The exhibition has been in the works since the middle of last year (2010). I had the opportunity to travel to the nearby city of Austin to check it out. Keeping with the nuance of “keep Austin weird” this makes it a prime location to host an exhibition of an emerging medium. The event catered to an extremely large turn-out from locals to people from various places. Each artist had a number of photos displayed 5×5 wooden photo boxes.
EC: Hi, I’m here with Tina Weitz, the owner of Studio2Gallery in Austin, TX and the curator of the exhibition, “App-artions.” How did this gallery opening come together?
TW: I own the gallery and unfortunately, I can’t sponsor artists anymore due to the economy. Inthe past I’ve featured various artists and also hold national calls for entries and say this is what we’re doing, this is the theme. Turn in your stuff and we’ll put together an exhibit but this is one of the few times I actually did an invitational one with three other people that did the same cell phone photography because it is a personal passion. I saw it in my mind, I wanted them all (the photos) to be the same size so that everyone can see…no matter what, they’re all (the photos) are going to look different, they’re all going to belong to someone. You can tell by looking at it, they’re from four different artists. Once people heard I was doing this, they were like “Do you need anyone else, do you need anyone else!?! My wife takes really good ones!” People want to do this. For one of my future projects, I’m thinking about doing a national call where everybody submits stuff, we select, and do a book. I think it would be really interesting to see how you can collaborate and put together something really artistic.
EC: So tell me Tina how did you and the other artists start out shooting with your iPhones?
TW: I’ve been an architectural photographer for over 20 years. Carol Schiraldi has been a photographer for a minimum of 15 years. Leon Alesi has been a high end weeding photographer for 20 some-odd years. Catherine McMillan, food photography and What we were finding was that how exciting we were all getting about using our iPhone whether it be for documenting things while we were working. You don’t always have your technical equipment with you and so that phone comes in handy and we were losing processes with film, like our Polaroid. I was the Polaroid queen. I did times zero, sx70 film. I absolutely loved it. They got rid of it four years ago and the ShakeIt is like my candy after losing my film. It gives that same look I use to get. What I liked is when you take your phone, you’re immediately in the creative process. When you take your tripod and your camera with 20 menus and you set your film speed, you’re doing all this, you’re getting all your technical stuff set up before you even get to your creative process. And with this, it’s almost like you start thinking that way immediately and so we all started comparing and this is kind of like a little passion and we decided we needed to go into the great debate about if this is art or not.
EC: That’s always been a debate on twitter…whether or not this is considered art, is iPhone photography starting to gain acceptance as a ligament medium?
TW: I do think it’s going to be accepted because I started out as a film dinosaur and I went kicking and screaming into digital until I had to go over to Europe and didn’t want to go through the scans and the film and those type of things and found the freeing of being able to shoot as many images as you want and sort through them rather than paying for the film and processing and printing…waiting…seeing if it came out. So, I can see this as a step further. I think it’s the photographer, it’s their eye, it’s what they do with the process and you can’t just get that from just a piece of machinery. It’s a combination of that machinery and what someone’s doing with it.
EC: Do you find yourself inspired by other mobile photographers? Do you even look at other people’s work?
TW: Absolutely. If you want to take good photos, you have to look at good photos and find out what it is that excites you and I think it becomes a compulsion. You say, “Oh, I want to go check out that garden to see what they’ve done there.” I don’t care what your subject is, there’s always a new way to shoot it.
EC: Do you have a personal blog where you post your iPhone work?
TW: Yes, it’s under photoweitz.com.
EC: Well Tina it was an absolute pleasure to meet you. I’m going to let you get back to the event and your guest. Thank you so much for taking the time speak with me about your iPhoneography experience and the show.
TW: Oh no problem Edgar, nice to meet you too.
Tina was a great host, she also invited us back her personal office and offered more conversation, mostly off-the-record because I just didn’t record what she said.
“App-arition” at Studio2Gallery is located at 1700 Lamer Ste. 318 Austin, TX, 78704 and will be on an going exhibition from February 12 – March 5, 2011. If you’re in Austin be sure to stop by.