Phone Arts

Phone Arts is a tumblr blog collecting images made on phones.
The images are all phone-sized, phone-oriented (portrait as opposed to landscape), and somewhat uniform in look due to all being made with default imaging software. The images tend to an ultra-smooth, photographic style (Photoshoppy as opposed to say, pixel art).
The work defines ephemerality--it's literally phoned in. This isn't necessarily bad--none of the "phonists" are making any pretense to a grand gesture. Their modest stream of thumbnails-that-are-mostly-the-same-size-as-the-image have the stated goal to "create something on a mobile device with the intended purpose of designing graphic arts that are spontaneous and reactionary." (Reactionary in the sense of responding to one another, rather than being conservative).
The tumblr stream tetrises the images together, making them easy to navigate but hard to judge as individual expressions. Below are a few plucked out of the grid, with a stab at some commentary.

"clywall," by Hotel (Guillaume Hugon):


3D Rorschach blots beat their ink counterparts for scariness and sex appeal. In addition to a meandering contour line you have the suggestive folds and undulations of that extra dimension. The digital equivalent of Max Ernst's frottage and decalcomania techiques of creating a randomized, organic surface for mental projection. In the one above I see demons, but maybe that's just me.

two by Ya Herd (Brian Metcalf):


This collage recalls painter Sigmar Polke's work in its layering of a gestural squiggle over a pattern--a "log lattice"--suggesting high-contrast black and white photography. The defiant urban "tag" crowns an already-mediated faux-rural iconography.


More than vaguely disgusting, this "meatwad" suggests a mutant potato, an extreme hand deformity, and a bloody industrial accident all in one high-impact graphic package. Think Barbara Kruger without the text and intellectual guidance: you are on your own here.

two by Michael Manning:


Have written before about the connections between "paintfx" art and the short-lived abstract illusionist pseudo-movement of the late 70s, where airbrushed shadows were painted under gestural marks, making them appear to hover a few inches in front of a background. It's a gimmick but undeniably seductive. The oxymoron of carefully preserved (fetishized) spontaneity is an old idea but probably makes more sense in the digital age than it did in the 70s, when people still had some notion of the real and could actually be annoyed by tawdry tricks in the sacred realm of abstract painting. Now it's just business as usual ("everything's not fake?"). Need to think about this some more.


A similar idea to the one above but I prefer it because it doesn't reference the painting tradition so overtly. Instead it takes an abstract illusionist strategy of image-making into the realm of Google Maps and surveillance photography. One imagines a fractal cloudbank hovering over a Caribbean data island, on a wafer-thin LCD panel hovering over a cyber-mogul's office wall, inside a building that is itself a virtual reality projection--or some other such nested, (Neal) Stephensonian scenario. Part painting, part futuristic travel poster.

"Mini-Maximizer (Extended)"

"Mini-Maximizer (Extended)" [mp3 removed -- a revised version of this track is on Bandcamp]

A longer version of a track posted below.
Same instrumentation but with variations of timbre and pitch in some newly-recorded segments. The main additions are double-LFO-syncopated synth lines slightly out of step with the beat.

enlarged spirals


that tremor sort of caught my eye after posting the smaller, uncropped version of this - a byproduct of hand-positioning a post-it note on the scanner bed