Q&A with MissPixels
Montréal-based MissPixels uses various iPhone apps to create her mobile art.
By Samia Madwar
Q. How did you get into iPhoneography?
I studied visual arts, and I really liked technology, so I went into graphic design as well. When I got my first iPhone in 2009, it merged my love of art and technology, and I instantly fell in love. I put my pictures on Flickr, just as a way to store them, and someone in Italy contacted me to use my picture in an exhibition. That’s how it all started.
I don’t consider myself a photographer – I’m a very spontaneous, energetic person, and photography takes a lot of preparation. I don’t carry a camera with me. An iPhone is a better medium for me and is a better fit for my personality.
Q. So what distinguishes iPhoneography from photography?
When I say I don’t consider myself a photographer, what I mean is, iPhoneography is a medium. I’ve always called the art itself “mobile photography,” or “mobile art.” Today, there are lots of applications you can use.
With a regular digital camera, the techniques are difficult. You’re at the mercy of the light quality, if there even are lights, and most of the time bad lighting diminishes the quality of your photos. For me, setting up a photo is more complicated. Accidents can happen to my equipment too, so I have to be careful with my gear. This all means I can’t be very spontaneous.
Q. Which apps do you use?
There are some basic ones that I use all the time. I have some favourites. There are others that I use for certain series, because I approach each series in a unique way. In general, I use Eyeem, Instagram, Photostudio, Photo forge 2, Iris, Decim8, Blender and Diptic. For the CG series, I used Snapseed, Tilt Shift Gen, Camera +, King Camera and Photo FX.
I used Photo FX to amplify the noise in the photos. I sometimes double, even quadruple the noise to add graininess.
Q. Where do you draw your inspiration?
It’s all very sudden. I’ll wake up one morning, go for a run and come up with an idea that way. If I have an idea, I have to go through with it. It’s not an elaborate, programmed process.
For the CG
layout, I based it on a similar series I created in London. I asked a friend to walk around Montréal because I know the city well and had a few places I wanted to shoot in. I was also inspired by [Chris Turner’s] story. I chose the pastel colour scheme based on the colours you often find in the magazine’s maps.
In that series, I used different applications from one photo to another. That’s another thing about mobile photography; you can use several applications, not just Photoshop, to treat your images. For each set of manipulations I apply to the image, I have to remember the different applications I use. I need to remember the recipe.
Q. That’s an interesting way to put it. Tell us more about your recipes.
It’s happened in the past that I’ve tested two recipes for the same photo. Each recipe will define the photo in a different way. There may be lots of noise in one version of the image, for example, that will give it a completely different temperature, a completely different emotion, than another version.
In my recent “Stripes” series, I treated the same photo with different recipes. They’re more processed than other images I’ve created, which had only one recipe applied to them.
Q. Since you started in 2009, have mobile photos become more mainstream?
People are used to high-definition photos being published. Mobile photography doesn’t fall into the same stream. Lots of traditional photographers were at first doubtful of the prospects of mobile photography. But you can’t compare mobile photography with traditional photography. It’s an entirely new medium. It doesn’t have the same texture. It’s like the difference between film and digital photography. You can’t technically compare a film camera with a DSLR.
I like to compare what’s happening today with paintings in the beginning of the 20th century. Impressionists would go outdoors to paint. That completely changed the approach to art in that time. Today, we have a similar shift happening. It’s almost a revolution: mobile art can happen on the road, on the metro, everywhere. You can create an image, capture a photo, edit it, add colour, modify it, work with its luminosity and contrast and, in the same breath, share it almost instantaneously.
You don’t need a photo studio at home; your studio is with you all the time. You don’t need to go back anywhere to transfer your photos onto a computer to treat them. With us, it’s more mobile — you can modify and share your work anywhere you go. So in mobile art, it’s not just the medium itself that’s mobile; the studio is, too.
MissPixels is a Montréal-based designer whose latest series, Winter Stripes, featuring bands of colours from the Laurentides, will be part of a permanent collection exhibited in the Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) starting in fall 2012. Visit her website at www.misspixels.com