January 30, 2010
Bottom Line: If you’re in or near the Bay Area, this is a Don’t Miss exhibition.
Pixels at an Exhibition is the first brick and mortar iPhoneography exhibit. While there have been other brick and mortar exhibitions where iPhone photography was a component, Pixels at an Exhibition is the first gallery show to feature iPhoneography exclusively. What organizers and curators Knox Bronson and Rae Douglass have done is to reach out to iPhoneographers around the globe. They’ve created an exhibition that exemplifies what the iPhone is capable of artistically and celebrates a broad range of styles coming from photographers who have embraced the technology of the iPhone and the spontaneity of having an inconspicuous camera with you everywhere you go.
The Giorgi Gallery is located in Berkeley, California, across the bay from San Francisco. For the opening of the exhibition, it drew a large crowd from all over the bay area — collectors, supporters and photographers.
The exhibit features 200 images. All were shot and processed solely on an iPhone — no other cameras or platforms were accepted. Well-known iPhoneographers such as Valerie Ardini, Dixon Hamby and Dominique Jost are displayed alongside impressive submissions by up-and-coming photographers. Among my favorites from images I hadn’t seen before are photographs by Torsten Geyer, Maria Sakharova, Frederico Motta, Alex Kessiner, Elinor Schwob, Keith Weaver, and Kay Frederick. You can check out all of the submissions at pixelsatanexhibition.com.
The quality of the art is universally exceptional for this exhibit. Each piece is visually striking in its composition, color and/or emotional response. The images are output at no more than 7″ on high-quality archival stock cropped to 12″ squares. Photos are sold on a bright-white textured matte finish stock. I’d have liked to have seen a harder matte stock to help with the color vibrancy, but the paper used did not detract from the exhibit for me. It’s a straightforward display that lets the photography speak for itself.
The images take on a different quality when viewed in real space as opposed to online. Some of the images fared better than others in the transfer from a digital color space to a physical color space, but on an emotional level, they all benefited from being displayed in a format that people associate with a traditional art.
I was impressed with quality of the images selected. I saw several images that had created a buzz online in various forums, Flickr groups and online galleries. To discover a physical rendition of them in a gallery gave me the same feeling as walking through an art museum and coming face to face with an image that I’d only studied in books. Seeing the art in person, curated, evokes a different emotional response than clicking through it online. One is physically surrounded by a lot of great art instead of focusing on one image on a screen. The gallery setting allowed me to mull over images longer than others, studying the detail or the color or the mood that the photographer was trying to convey. There were others in the gallery who I engaged, either talking technique or simply comparing favorites. One of the important things that this exhibit accomplishes is to make iPhoneography social in a person-to-person way.
There were many patrons at the opening who attended to see art, regardless of the source. They were not disappointed. It was interesting to watch their excitement when they realized that each piece came from a mobile phone — a device that is now ubiquitous.
Pixels at an Exhibition is an important showing for the art. Knox and Rae have done an excellent job in assembling a body of work that not only illustrates what is capable with an iPhone, but more important an exhibition of great photography. It’s an extremely well-done show, displaying a lot of excellent work, representing iPhoneographers who will push the envelope of the art, adding creds to this relatively new art sub-genre and hopefully inspiring a new generation of iPhone photographers who, before, never realized the potential in their pocket.
Pixels at an Exhibition runs through February 27, 2010 at the Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Blvd., Berkeley, California. Visit iphontography.org for more information.
Updated: February 3, 2010