Hate ’em or love ’em, Roger Guetta is a brilliant creative talent out of Montreal, Canada. His images are wonderful representations of reality and abstract notions. His images are depictions of mastering multiple apps and allotted source material. It has been a joy to see Roger’s work improve and take turns throughout the last year of following and getting to know DraMan.
Without further ado, Rodger Guetta…
EC: Tell me about yourself? Where are you from?
RG: I was born in Cairo, Egypt. At the age of six, because of The Suez Crisis, my family and I were exiled for political/religious reasons. I have conflicting memories of those days. I remember the city being bombed by the French, English, and Israelis as well as memories of wonderful beach vacations in Alexandria. We migrated to Montreal where I was brought up. I was never very artistic until I took an extended trip to Europe and upon my return, switched my area of focus from Commerce into Fine Arts. I subsequently made theatre my area of expertise and have been a theatre prof for thirty years.
EC: How did you get into mobile photography/iPhoneography?
RG: As soon as I received my iPhone I started snapping. I wasn’t wowed for at least two months, but soon became seduced by it’s convenience and assortment of post production possibilities.
EC: What does mobile photography/iPhoneography mean to you?
RG: iPhoneography has opened a door into diverse artistic explorations, from work on portraiture to surrealistic manifestations to street photography and studio work.
In terms of portraiture the fact that it has prompted me to stop interesting people in my environment, have brief conversations and pose them, has given me a rare opportunity to connect with people I would have never met otherwise. I take their emails and send them my finished product. Through this process I have not only collected a wide variety of head shots but developed some interesting relationships. I love the interactivity of this particular process.
By surrealistic manifestations I mean my intuitive visual investigations of the essential mysteries of life. I spend much time layering, isolating and combining pictures I have shot and collected to transform them into works that hopefully prompt and engage the viewer into a world of wonder and conjecture.
My sense of composition and flow is tested when I hit the streets to shoot everyday mini dramas. I love the feeling of acute readiness needed to capture these moments. It elevates my awareness level and excites the sense of creation on the fly.
iPhoneography has also launched me into creating promo materials for bands in the area and recently because of a studio shoot with a friend which I entitled ‘Urban Cowboy’ an author of a new post-apocolyptic western (his term) has commissioned me to create the cover of his book. The directorial element of creating moments in a contained environment challenges and excites me very much.
In conclusion all these artistic forms combined with the wonderful community on line that I share them with has given me great joy since I have started with mobile photography.
EC: Your images encompass many elements from layering textures and faces to shadows and graphics. Leaves to wonder how does someone collect so much material. Can you talk to me about the elaborate production behind your work?
RG: To begin with I approach and split my work in a sort of duality of priorities. By that I mean I shoot either source subject matter which I describe to myself as ‘protaganistic’ and then at times shoot textures which I term ‘peripheral’ material. I rarely know how and when I will be using these textures, I just collect them randomly and non judgmentally.
I have folders for both these elements. When I choose a ‘protagonist’ to work with, I usually study it’s integral elements, decide what gets erased to accommodate new textural nuances and what remains as is. Therefore I map my eventual process in my mind first then begin to layer, chop, segregate and resize my textural materials to enhance the primary composition.
I allow the process to be open ended, meaning I am not married to my initial mapping and allow for changes and new inspirations along the way. I try to remain true to my sense of stream of consciousness and trust my intuition. Sometimes, it is gruelling and elaborate, as you put it and sometimes a few transformations resonates with me and I stop appin and start nappin’ as it were. :)
EC: How often do you work on your iPhoneography? Do you spend a numerous amount of time on working and reworking your photos?
RG: There is a private confession which many of my online friends share and that is, and I quote: “I am hopelessly addicted.” I confess to the same affliction and love the fact that this particular addiction nurtures me rather than diminishes me. I am very fortunate that my day job affords me plenty of time to delve into my passions in sustainable ways. I am not a ‘work, incubate, work’ type of guy. I like to flow to completion, so that my engagement is focused and intregal.
As I commented before, depending on the image’s life force, it usually tells me if it is finished in an economical way or needs to explore new directions because it feels it is ‘special.’
As with ‘special’ people, the pic’s character is complex, sometimes neurotic, sometimes overly demanding but it’s/their charm seduces me to submission… (ha ha …art joke)
EC: How has social media such as Twitter and Instagram helped or hindered the way you choose to share your work with others?
RG: I rarely use Twitter and my submissions on Instagram are incidental at best. My main stay is my shared experience on Face Book and Flickr.
I feel we are living in exceptional times in as much as artists with common interests/passions can commune so easily and effectively. I have been on Flickr since 2007, and although I have built a certain following and made a few interesting connections there, it is nowhere near the powerhouse cohesiveness of shared experience FB provides.
Setting aside some of the dubious aspirations the platform might poccess, such as image copyright issues, it is in my mind an elegant and well conceived venue for artists and public to interact, support, investigate and share their works and hearts. An phoneographic community has surfaced and by sheer good intent and commitment to excellence, groups have been founded to explore areas of expertise, actual gallery shows have been activated in many areas of the world, self promotion is made easy and unobtrusive. Luxuries which were almost non existent a decade ago are seamlessly executed now. I personally run a group named Appstracts which continues to thrive because of the warm spirits and dedication of it’s members. Because of user friendly web site generators I am able to transfer images to a more impressive platform to highlight their works. It’s all so interconnected and well designed that I am constantly in awe of where we are and where we might be in a few years.
EC: Do you have any formal training regarding traditional photography?
RG: My primary training is in painting and the fine arts. The theatre stole my heart subsequent to that and for 10 years I worked in that field and in the film business before I became a theatre prof.
The theatre, being a hub for many of the arts afforded me experimentation in set design, lighting, acting, directing and at times the documentary style of photography of dress rehearsals and promo stills.
I began using the Polaroid camera to record such events until I discovered it’s artistic reach. This was in the late 70’s when the SX 70 image pod was rife with manipulative possibilities. The chemicals within the plastic housing were malleable enough to, using a stylus, push, nudge and otherwise smudge around to produce painterly effects. Long story short, I eventually developed a style and showed my enlarged Cybachrome versions in galleries in Toronto and Montreal. Prop to the Cybachrome process, some of these pieces have hung in sun drenched rooms for over 30 years without any disernable degration.
EC: What types of subjects do you like to shoot?
RG: I enjoy working with a myriad of subject matter. It depends where I am and what presents itself in the moment. Unless commissioned I rarely plan a photo shoot of a particular place or thing. I like to think of myself as a controlled random shooter until I put on my post production hat. There I revisit and reinvent what the ‘subject’ focus can be.
EC: Who inspires you? Who are your artistic influences?
RG: I am inspired daily by the mobile art community. The artists, the curators, the project initiators, the app developers, the way the sun shines into my work room in the early afternoon and I must say: a well crafted Mojito.
My primary source of artistic inspiration comes from the avant grade, the experimental, the marginal, les infant terrible of the art world from Artaud, The Living Theatre, Arrabal, Brooke and Robert Wilson in the theatre world.
Herzog, Jodoworsky, Orson Wells, Truffault, Gravas, Fellini to name a few in the film world.
Bukowsky, Rimbaud, Hesse, Kozinsky Plath, Kazantzakis are some in the literary world (please include all the existential authors).
Egon Schiele is my favourite artist but the expressionists, the dadaists, the surrealists and the New York wave of the 50’s/60’sare my main stays.
EC: When you’re in a creative block what do you do to break out if it? Do you look at the work of other iPhoneoographers to be re-inspired?
RG: I have been asked this before and I always have a hard time answering it without feeling pretentious. The fact is, because of my extended life in the arts, my particular inner work and the fact that I am involved and engaged in so many different artistic projects, I am rarely conflicted by this issue. I an in constant flux and see opportunity in many aspects of my life. I have always been kinetic in that way. I am very lucky. That is not to say that many iPhoneographers do not inspire me. They certainly do and in boat loads.
Every day my awe factor is triggered incrementally by their inventiveness and obvious research as serious artists.
EC: What has been the some of the challenges of using the iPhone as a camera?
RG: Explaining that the iPhone has enough technical gumption to be considered a legitament and effective apparatus. Also I haven’t yet figured out how to not spoil my rhythm when I get a call while in the throws of photographic creation.
EC: Has your work been published before, if so, where? Did you ever expect your work to be noticed by the iPhoneography community?
RG: Yes. If you mean ‘published’ online, many times by many established and respected publications such as yours. I have copy/pasted a colleague of mine because I don’t have all that stuff at arm’s length….Thanks Cat!!
My work has been featured at the Giorgi Gallery in Berkeley, CA; ; First Annual iPhoneography Miami Exhibition at Artspace Gallery Miami; “iPhoneography: Updated Visual Dialogs” at the Lunch Box Gallery in Miami, FL; Mobile P1xels Show at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art; was included on iPhoneogenic’s list of the 50 Top Mobile Photographers/Artists of 2011; and has been featured in LifeInLofi, iPhoneographyCentral, and Pixels: The Art of the iPhone. Artist of the month at IPA and recently had a one man show of my works at the Visual Voice Gallery in Montreal. I am also represented in Toronto by The Norman Felix Gallery where I will be showing works for the Contact event.
EC: What’s in your iPhone camera bag (apps)? What are a few of your favorite apps that you’re currently using at the moment?
RG: Image Blender, Snapseed BlurFX, CutUpCreator, King Camera, PicGrunger, ScratchCam and PaintFX
EC: Where do you see iPhoneography/mobile photography in the future?
RG: Joseph Cornell arranges his magic box assemblages, taking ordinary objects and transforms them by association, raising all this ordinariness onto a magical surreal plane of reality.
Right now I would use the analogy of the magic box assemblages of Joseph Cornell, with each style housed in a particular compartment. I see us as a community watch as certain compartments take the establishment by storm as smaller and self contained (the iPhone) apparatuses are demystified and respected as a legit artistic tool.
Once that foray is actualized, curators, agents and art slingers will search for new compartments to highlight. The buyers will collect the ‘isms’ because of the high quality of
EC: Do you mind telling us how you have created a recent piece of iPhonographic work from start to finish? (a workflow step by step of the photo with renditions along the way of the photos you used for the final, example below)
A: With pleasure
I chose this picture of one of my students to deconstruct because it exemplifies my work with portraiture and
I first choose two images to work with:
I then open up CutUp Creator and begin the process of isolating a portion of the second picture. I use a stylus and the brush tool to trace along the portion that I want.
I now go to ImageBlender and upload the two images:
I double click on the second image (the measuring element) and position it on her face.
I double click on the second image (the measuring element) choose ‘Arrange’ and position it on her face. I then choose the Luminosity button.
At this point, I save to the camera roll and then bring it up again as the primary pic in blender.
I go through my camera roll and find a pic I took of a squash court floor which I had previously apped in Blender and other apps to use as my secondary image.
I repeat the process of finding the right blend.
I apply ‘multiply’ …save it to camera roll and bring it up again
I keep the two images, but this time double tap the measuring element and reposition it to get more lines on her neck.
Satisfied with the image as blended I now upload it to SnapSeed. There I go through many of the functions until I am satisfied
>; >; >;
I now bring the image back to Blender. I keep the secondary image in place and play around again.
I now upload the image to Scratch Cam and play around there.
I save it and put it through Scratch Cam again
Now I go back to SnapSeed and use the ‘Details,’ Grunge, Selective Tools functions before going back to Blender.
In Blender, I go through the process again
I now take it to Modern Grunge
From there I take it back to Snapseed for small tweaks until I decide to stop
EC: What other thoughts would you like to share?
RG: I believe that a series of ‘Eureka’ moments in the throws of creation sustain us as artists. These moments of cognitive recognition decision making, transformation and actualization propel us into higher states of consciousness which trigger the quiet mind. The child mind, where there is non judgmental absorption and experimentation. A state of being which we should, in my humble opinion, aspire to conjure up in our everyday social transactions. To be in the moment, listening to each other as intensely as we listen to our intuition when we create. The most astounding thing I find about the iPhoneographic process is the continuous flow of ‘Eureka’ moments as I traverse the app puzzle. This rich palette of effects and nuances which continue to push our limitations.
Thank you Roger, for participating in this feature here on iPhoneogenic, our Facebook Page, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to get to know more about you and honored to have you share your work here on the blog.
For more on Roger check out this link:
Abstracts – rguetta.tumblr.com/
Alternate website: www.rogerguetta.com/
All images shown here are copyrighted property of the artist and are published on all iPhoneogenic outlets with the consent of the artist, please contact Roger Guetta for copyright privileges.
Published by: Edi Caves. 04/30/2012