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Art Critique and Community: Vol. 3 Mobile Artistry

Welcome to our third installment of Juxt Critique and Community. This month we are focusing on the genre of Mobile Artistry, which is a genre that is as diverse as the artists that make it up. It encompasses app stacking, layering, and adding elements to create an entirely different picture in the end. Our artists this month are diverse and span multiple categories within mobile arts.  

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Images by Roberto Cuevas
Critique by Rebecca Cornwell

Triangular Transformation It’s always exciting for me to take a hard look at a fellow artist.  Generally artists view other artists with not just visual reading but also with curiosity, wondering how they did this, or that.  What apps they used, what images they started with. The realm of Art/Abstract photography is a somewhat new one.  Allowing for broad definitions and wide interpretations.  Digital editing has given us, like special effects in the movies, the ability to make anything look real.  To some this is unsettling; to others it’s like opening the brain and seeing what’s inside.  Visually, anything is possible in this creative world.

Her Shadow In all 3 images shown here we see a solitary figure wandering/walking through imagined space, grounded to the picture plane only by their shadows.  In all 3, the figures are walking away, almost leisurely, from the viewer.  The figures are faceless, nameless and unidentifiable.  They carry some attributes of normal daily life like bags and water bottles but exist almost as anonymous silhouettes. The space they inhabit is emptied of any touchstones of reality, in fact its just space, a simplified, colored, almost decorated, space.  The decorative elements appear to lead the figure on their path as if their destination is a certain color or shape in the photograph.  The titles, like the photographs, are somewhat ambiguous.  They describe an element of the scene like “Her Shadow” but don’t give us any deeper clues as to the intention of the artist. We are left to determine the nature and purpose of theses figures in space.  This ambiguousness can be both exciting and unsettling to interpret.

I, personally, find these works interesting to dissect from a technical point of view.  At first the works seem simple in their minimalism, but upon further inspection the details and subtleties begin to reveal themselves.  In the first and third images we see details in the clothing and things the figures carry but we also become confounded and confused by the Escher-like way the figures seem to move through their little square. Where are they going?  How will they get there? They seem both frozen in time and moving in step.  In the second image the space appears completely vacant, almost sterile, and the figure a mere outline of a human, but as we look closer the pale shapes appear in the upper left quadrant.  We wonder if the figure is headed towards the shape or stopped in his tracks.  Is the shape menacing or gentle? Mechanical or natural? The contrast of the black figure in the quiet pale environment is almost a shock to the eye. As all the figures in each image are in motion, moving from one part of the frame to another, ultimately what we wonder is: where is this figure and where is it going?  The artist creates an imaginary world giving us very few visual clues about the central figures that inhabit the space. They lack faces or expression that might help us understand any emotion or condition.  This absence of visual cues leaves all the interpreting to the viewer, allowing our imagination to run wild.

Untitled Additionally, as an artist, I found myself intrigued by the artist’s methods and use of apps.  The artist’s minimalist, geometric style is in direct contrast to my own organic, layered imagery.  I find myself going through the editing steps wondering how it was done.  I don’t find this distracting but adds to the interest of the photographs.
Ultimately, the works, as a whole, asks a lot of questions and allows for many kinds of interpretations.  Alternatively, we can accept the vacant minimalist imagery of the works, they are, beautiful, eye-pleasing shapes of color and design.

What Roberto had to say about his images:

Triangular Transformation  I was going for a simple feel here, but I still wanted to include something that would make it slightly complex. I started with a blank slate, added and masked the figure in the lower right corner, and started stacking triangles like crazy. I used Image Blender for this one.

Her Shadow This is an edit on a street photograph of mine. The raw photo itself wasn’t very interesting and had too many flaws, so I spent a few hours editing it. That involved masking and splitting the colors in Image Blender, and processing in VSCO Cam.

Untitled This is an edit on another street photo as well. It involved several sessions of editing. I did most of the work in Image Blender as well, pulling effects from other apps and adding them, as well as fracturing the different versions of the edit and bringing them together. Then I processed it in VSCO Cam & Snapseed.

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Image by Federico Sardi
Critique by Giulia Macario

When it comes to sharing photographs – stories, one of the incredible things I’ve discovered is how images can move people. Hearing how a picture can make someone feel is always a primary motive for me in sharing visuals. What can the artist evoke in the viewer, what as a viewer can I see, beyond the obvious within the frame?

I often leave tiny tales and thumbprints underneath the images that stop me in my tracks, time permitting. It’s an honour for me to take that extra time to delve a little deeper into this image chosen by the  We Are Juxt team and share some of my perceptions with you.

In Federico’s image, I see swirls in the spaces, ghostly remnants of old friendships from the past, and memories fondly recalled of friendly encounters…

“Bernard had kept up the tradition of his weekly round of cards for 50 odd years. Every Thursday he’d saunter down the street in his favourite fedora and worn in suit to meet up with his old mate George  – who would always greet him with a grin and a bit of a dig “Lookin’ sharp Berns’, lookin’ sharp”. Berns, as George called him, would brush off his comment with a wave of his hand and grumble something like “Hurry up and deal fool”…. And George would laugh…  They were like chalk and cheese these two but had found a common language in the deck of diamonds, hearts and spades… This continued every week without fail, all up until … Bernard became sick, he’d hid it from everyone so no one would worry, but George had always known, deep down…”

Immediately I was drawn into the character of the old friend in white with the cheeky grin and shiny glasses – for the purpose of the critique I’ve called him George. The short story above was purely fictional, written to help get me into the headspace of the ‘subjects’ – though I hesitate to use that word, go figure. He is completely engaging, even though taking up only a fraction of the foreground (bottom left); our eyes go directly there to the lightest corner of the frame. He has a magnetic charm; I think it’s something about his quirky expression, glancing upwards.

What the hell is George looking at and why is he smiling like that? Is he losing his mind, is he remembering the past, is he what…? Is this his ghostly friend from the past looking down on him?

I’m asking questions already, I’m intrigued. That’s a good thing in my book. Sometimes we can gain clues from the title, like little crumbs left behind, there were none left here. This allowed me as a viewer to step inside and fill in the gaps myself, with no preconceived ideas of the original intention.

But lets go back to the image itself, I say we start around the edges and work our way in.

To frame or not to frame? Well, I think if it adds to the story then why not. The Polaroid border fits quite well here, adding another tactile element to the composition. Besides, I like things that look a little frayed, digital photos can look a bit too new and ‘clean’ sometimes, but that could just be me. There might have been an opportunity to add some text here, underneath – like a title, a name, a hand scrawled message of some kind maybe, a clue of what he was thinking, or a date or location to ground us in a time or place.

If we now ‘step inside’ that black square and into the eyes of the characters swirling around the space, we can start to fill in the story.

The use of negative space behind both George in the foreground and our friendly ghost Bernard floating above has been used effectively to help bring focus to the characters ‘living’ inside. The photographer has used this contrast and negative space to his advantage to heighten the attention on the figures, had he chosen another colour I’m not sure it would have worked quite as well to set the tone of the image. George, in his white t-shirt, leaps out of the black, and even though he takes up such a small area, less than a third of the photo – I found my eye going straight to him and that glint in his eyes – with the reflective glasses providing yet another contrast. I thought the change in scale and hierarchy between the two friends, as well as Bernards tilted body angle – added another dynamic to the composition. I have added an overlay (below) to show the spiraling semi circle path my eyes traveled when viewing the image.

The simplicity of the background means there is nothing to detract or distract us from the emotion of the characters; on the other hand we also have no other hints about where they are and what they are doing. The ‘heaviness’ of the black background is counter balanced with those lighter areas of subtle imperfect scratches present in the textures of Bernards’ suit, and the slight opaque texture like a flickering projector seeping through the skin of the characters. The translucency and lightness in the figures adds to the ethereal atmosphere. There is also an ever so slight sepia tone to the Polaroid, which adds an antique feel to the photo. Federico has maintained warmth to the spooky and smoky undertones so that I believed there was nothing sinister about these ghosts. With a tip of his hat Bernard leaves tactile trails of times past in the frame. It felt to me like George was remembering an old friend, and Bernard floated on by to say both hello and goodbye.

Bernard (the stylishly suited ghost) – is entering the frame from the right in a whisper of smoky lines and hushed movement. We can get a sense of him being larger than life and a proud, no-nonsense kind of guy, dressed in his dapper suit and hat. The repeat of Bernard adds to the out of body like experience. In the first instance he is looking down towards George – connecting them visually, and secondly he curves upwards with his chest puffed out – determinedly, towards the top. To further emphasise this shift up to the ‘heavens’ I might have moved the secondary (and slightly smaller) ghost up further to the top edge and a little to the right. This would have matched Georges gaze a touch more and also led the eye up to sweep out of the frame more dramatically – overall though, I feel he has translated a wonderful stary.

It is my opinion that while many photographers are skilled in the techniques of creating the best compositions and utilizing the best lighting, that pulse or heart inside an image is not always present. That is not the case here; as the first thing that drew me into this particular image by Federico is the inherent humanity of it. Federico shows an understanding of being able to tell a story rather than just glance over the surface of things with a snapshot. A big thank you to  him for sharing it and allowing me to see through his eyes.

Federico’s description:
I started this image with three shots taken with Hipstamatic (using Jane + C-Type Plate) on an iPhone 5. Two of them can be found on my Instagram and EyeEm galleries.

First I edited the first image (a guy standing on the sidewalk) on Filterstorm to make the background black. With Image Blender I’ve imported the face of the old man looking up and blended it with the body of the first image. I imported the man with the hat with Image Blender, applied texture with PhotoToaster and sent the picture to Decim8. I’ve applied the precog1 effect until I got that beautiful ghost coming out of the man with the hat. I’ve blended the decim8ed image with the previous image I had, so I could have the old man’s face as before. Finally I applied a black and white filter (can’t remember which one I used) and Evidence frame.

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Critique By Richard Gray
Photos by Jeff Kelley

Together the images show a variety of styles, techniques and subjects. They also show the artist to be very adventurous and clearly very accomplished technically. Apps were put on this earth for us to use so why not. Indeed for many people one of the joys of iphoneography is that it has given us so much power over our images. And, as we never tire of repeating, all in the palm of our hand. Like many people though (myself included), we are still getting to grips with the sheer range of capabilities they have given us and we’re still trying things out, seeing how they fit, thinking about when they might work best. Or not. One really good thing with these images is that the techniques that the artists has used are not totally obvious. Sometimes the fact you can see how an image has been created detracts from its value. But in all the images apart from perhaps the last one, the artists has used blending or layering in a style that has come to characterise a lot of iphoneography in the last couple of years. It’s a style that has less to do with straight photography and more to do with graphic art.

Photos simply provide the raw materials for the artist to build their creation with. The first image is typical of this sort of surreal style. A large purple eye is transposed over a grey winter landscape. The artist seems then to have used Decim8 or some other app to distort the image, adding bar-code style streaks whose modernity contrasts with the natural backdrop. Nature is present again in the second image with more trees, but is more dominant than in the first image. Though this time the treatment is more organic, with a heavy basket-weave texture (courtesy of Glaze), rather than bar codes, being added to take the image from the realms of reality into a dreamlike world. Both images experiment with interesting techniques though they are both perhaps excessively led by this desire to experiment.

The same might be said about the third image, which again employs various techniques to interesting effect. Colour splash is an effect seen widely in the iphoneography community and it’s used here on the central building. There also seems to be a mirroring technique to create an interesting double-shadow. A brown doorway seems to have been grafted onto the bottom of the image and is perhaps part of the artist’s personal narrative, though it seems to jar slightly with the rest of the image. In terms of subject, there is now no connection to the natural interest of the first two images.

The last image is perhaps the most straightforward (possibly a blend of two slow-shutter images), but it is perhaps the one with most impact and the most successful. We are fascinated by the human form and that is all the more true when the subject is someone we know, as is the case here (the artist’s daughter). And the personal connection is clear in what is an emotionally charged image. Whereas technique may have led the creation of the first three images, we sense that the order is reversed in the last image and it is the artist’s own emotional creativity that has led to the creation of this simple but very striking image.”

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Critque by Cindy Patrick
Images By Leif Stark

Graffiti Heart I will admit that I am not overly fond of photos that depict graffiti. To me, they seem lacking in self expression on the part of the photographer and seems akin to photographing someone else’s painting. It is merely a picture of a picture. However, after initially dismissing this photo, I found myself returning to it again and again. So I took a closer look and sought to determine just why this particular photo spoke to me.

First, I love the color and the heart. It reminds me of a Valentine’s Day card, which immediately puts me in a happy frame of mind. The skill of the graffiti artist is also quite apparent, and on that level alone the picture is very interesting to look at. But the more I look at this piece, the more I begin to ask questions. Where is this? What kind of graffiti artist paints a heart on a wall? And why is the heart locked up, trapped behind an iron gate and barbed wire? And then there is the bolt cutter, poised to cut the lock and set the heart free. Then I became intrigued by the photographer/artist who created this piece: Why was he in this place and what drew him to photograph this graffiti? What is he trying to say? There is a story there, and I feel compelled to learn more. My eye begins to move around the frame looking for clues. The cinderblock wall and the strong overhead light make me think that this photograph was taken in an alley, or somewhere off the beaten path where the graffiti artist could work without being discovered. Then there is that bit of text on the left side, begging to be read but obscured by the red paint. It adds an extra dimension and a little touch of mystery that I like. All these elements add up to an image that holds much interest for me as the viewer. It reminds me a bit of William Eggleston, who saw beauty in the mundane.

Something else that makes this image interesting to me personally, is the fact that I’ve always been fascinated with illustrated journals; journals kept by artists to express themselves and document their daily lives or travels. This image looks like an illustrated journal page to me. The poem that this photographer/artist wrote to accompany this image is as compelling to me as the image itself, and my immediate reaction is that I would love to see the words incorporated somehow into the piece. The text could be added as a layer and worked into the design, which would make the piece more personal than simply using a filter from Filter Mania. While I enjoy the square composition here, as it puts the subject front and center, I would love to see this as a horizontal and the poem included as a part of the piece. I think that would have made an already interesting image much stronger.

Lastly, I think that titles are quite important. Titling a finished piece can add greatly to the meaning of the piece and also add to the emotional response of the viewer. The title “Graffiti Heart” while descriptive does not provide an emotional component. A line from the photographer/artist’s own poem would have given this piece a big boost. Something such as “Love is a Feeling that Can’t Be Locked Up” or something similar would have worked very nicely.  Don’t settle for weak or lackluster titles. Give it some thought and show your viewer that you value your work enough to give it a worthy title!

Overall, I think this photographer/artist is on the right track in creating a piece of art that goes beyond being a mere record to being something much more personal and expressive. Nice job!

 

Hibernation This image is pure fun! My first reaction was that it could be a page from a children’s storybook and it made me smile. I immediately sense a larger story here. What I see are two pairs of insect wings sticking out of the snow, but why? What kind of insects are they? Were they youngsters just learning to fly? Or did they get lost in a blizzard and suddenly find themselves buried in the drifting snow? Whatever the storyline, the cartoon-like rendering and the primary color scheme combine to assure me that nothing terrible has happened to these magical creatures. I feel certain that their heads will pop up out of the snow at any moment, letting me know that all is well in Faerie Land! The wings are rendered very beautifully. Their translucency adds to this feeling of lightness and flight and contrasts nicely with the rough texture of the snow. Despite the application of a grunge filter,  and without reading the accompanying text, I do get the sense that this is snow. The blue tones lend a bit of a chill the scene, and the splashes and splotches and directional lines incorporated into this particular grunge filter really add to the sense of motion. I can almost see the two little faeries flying into the snow, so the choice of this filter was a good one! The warm yellow at the bottom of the image draws me in and nicely leads my eye to the subject. The placement is a bit too centered for me, though, and my advice would be to remember the “rule of thirds” when composing an image. Moving the wings up just a bit would have placed each pair of wings in one of the compositional “sweet spots.” This would have provided a bit more visual impact to an already interesting image.

As with the previous image, “Graffiti Heart,” I find the artist’s writing to be as compelling as the images. The little story that was sent to me along with this image for critiquing was very interesting to read and added greatly to the meaning of the piece. I am getting a sense that the artist has something to say beyond what is visually expressed , and that his descriptive text could somehow be incorporated into the piece. I would love to see that from this artist! I think it might round out his voice and result in some very strong, emotive, and personal pieces of art.

Lastly, while I like the title “Hibernation,” I do think it could be a bit stronger. Using the word “faerie” in the title would have given me a clue to what this picture is about as opposed to my having to rely on the descriptive text provided to me for this critique.

I always enjoy images that cause me to ask, “How did they do that?” and this images does just that and makes me smile too. Overall, a delight to look at and a job well done!

 

Self Repix I like to look at self portraits the same way I look at other types of images, which is to locate the main subject first and then make my way around the picture to find other clues as to what the artist is trying to say. The main subject of this self portrait is the eye. The artist has successfully employed the “rule of thirds” and placed it in a compositional “sweet spot.” Because of this, my eye is immediately directed to the eye in this picture. The artist has employed a few other successful techniques to draw my eye there. First, he has used warm colors to surround the eye (the deeper warm yellows and oranges) which immediately attract my eye. Second, he has used leading lines to direct me. The circles on the left and the pattern of the drips and splashes act as directional lines, or pointers, that all point to the eye.

So why has this artist made the eye the main subject? Why does he want me to look closely at the eye in this picture? A viewer’s first instinct might be to interpret the drips as tears and the bubbles and other textures as erosion or scars. Yet upon close inspection, the eye of this person does not look sad, sick, or depressed. The word “confident” comes to mind. when I look into the eye. I see someone who is self-assured and content with themselves. The little twinkles in the eye add to this feeling as does the hint of a smile on the lips. It puts me in mind of Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” This interpretation causes me to see the drips and bubbles not as erosion, but more of a metamorphosis. It is the depiction of someone shedding their old skin to reveal something new beneath. This person seems to be showing their face to the world, possibly for the first time, and saying “Here I am, world!” The clean part of the face adds to this sense of “coming clean” or making a fresh start.

All these things add up to a compelling and pleasing self portrait. Once again, I would give the title more serious thought. The title “Self Repix” is lackluster and only serves to describe the process and the genre. Such an emotional piece of art deserves a worthy title, and it’s your responsibility to give it one! To the artist of this piece, I would just like to say, “keep going!” This is a remarkable piece which hopefully will spur your creativity in a new direction. Well done!

What Lief had to say about her images:
Graffiti Heart This graffiti was inside a punk house called C-Squat, a place that houses some local street artists. I ended up here one night when I went to see the band Humanwine perform.  I had shot this about an hour before we found out the Marriage Equality Act passed in New York, so I wrote the following to go with this image:

Love is a feeling that can’t be locked up, 
Love is a freedom that should not be denied, 
Love is a right each and everyone of us deserves 
and finally the day has arrived where we break free 
our choice to marry whomever our heart desires. 

Shot and edited with Camera+ and I used the grunge filter from Filter Mania

Hibernation It seems almost every time it snows, I have to run out and play. This was a period where I wanted to escape and wished I could just hibernate like some animals do. So I played with the idea that my “twin faeries” were hiding away in the snow, but only got a glimpse of their wings. Instead of feeling ignored or not seen, I reminded myself that faeries are invisible and only show themselves to whom they choose to. So it’s ok that not everyone saw me/them. And instead of pure white snow, I went the other direction with a stained look, like glass, to match my mood at the time.

Used iPhone 4S native camera, edited with Camera+, ScratchCam and Snapseed.

Self Repix  Once in awhile I’ll take self portraits, but I’ve never edited it quite like this before. I have been so inspired lately by some other people’s dark, creepy, yet hauntingly beautiful edits that I decided to try it myself.

Used iPhone 4S native camera and edited with Repix.

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Critique by David Rondeau
Images By Beth Gibbeson


She Hides At first glance, it appears there is at least part of a human form in the image. Is it an arm? Maybe a leg? It’s not clear how the limb connects to the body, making the whole image hard to read. After looking at the title and the description, it becomes obvious that the large shape in the upper center of the frame is a child’s head, flanked on either side by arms. Arms which have pulled a shirt or dress up to completely cover and hide her face (but not her long hair). Why is she covering her face? Has her child’s sense of privacy been violated, or is she just playing peek-a-boo?

The obscured figure is dead center and fills most of the frame. The amorphous blob at top center and the arm and elbow at right are most prominent. The covered head is lighter than the rest of the image and the arm stands out because the dark strands of hair offer some contrast. Overall the image doesn’t have much tonal contrast and the color palette is limited to a subdued range of muted browns.  The mottled texture of the fabric is quite interesting (almost like a camouflage pattern) and the boundaries of the dress and the arm on the left side have been heavily obscured by swirling, smoke-like edits.

The very balanced composition and minimal contrast give the image a very static feeling. The color palette and minimal tonality are calming, but I feel a little trapped in the image. My eye is drawn to the large blob and then to the arm and darker contrast of hair, but quickly moves back to the left, following the dark shadow under the blob, up to the other arm and then back to the head. But it keeps following that same path, with no room to explore and no place to really stop. In combination with the mottled texture and obfuscating swirls, I’m left with a feeling of confusion and bewilderment. What am I looking at? What am I supposed to be seeing?

The piece is clearly about covering oneself and attempting to hide in plain sight. The figure fails to avoid being seen, but succeeds in avoiding being “read”. The image is the same—we know something is there, but we can’t “read” it. The texture and swirls act as a sort of camouflage, obscuring the image and making it hard to decipher. The more I analyze the image, the more I like its conceptual depth. Unfortunately, all of that analysis is based on my reading of the artist’s description of the photograph.

This image would be far stronger with more clues to the subject matter and less obfuscation. If you give viewers enough info, they’ll build the story in their mind and assemble the puzzle on their own. It’s that spark of understanding that will leave a lasting impression. Even with the deep conceptual aspect of this work, it could also be improved with a more interesting composition. If it were less perfectly balanced, had more interesting negative space, and had more room for the eye to wander, it would be as equally strong aesthetically as it is conceptually.

She Turns Away I’m immediately struck by the wonderful textures in the image and the stark contrast of dark brown hair with rich scarlet highlights. The figure of a young girl, shown from the waist up, is surrounded by an empty, yet lushly textured space. She stands sideways, frozen in some kind of motion with her arms raised slightly and her long hair flipping up to cover her face.

My eyes move from the dark strands of hair whipping through the air, down to the beautiful floral texture of the dress, out across the slightly raised arms, stopping to examine the wonderfully detailed hand, and eventually moving back to the hair. But along that journey, there are wonderful details and textures strewn throughout the image, where the eye can just linger and soak in gorgeous details.

Every element adds energy to the image: the slightly off-center framing of the figure with close cropping at the top of the head, the slight backwards angle of the torso and V-shape of the arms, the subdued brown color palette speckled throughout with flashes of red, the tiny flowers jammed together in the floral pattern of the dress, and the marble-like variegations of the background.

The rich texture with sparse color, the dark strands of hair and dynamic body lines against an empty background, and the slightly off-kilter pose all combine to make the image shimmer and crackle with energy. The figure itself is a bit of a mystery too. The face completely shrouded by a frenzy of hair and the motion of the body caught in an interesting state—one of unclear potential. Is the girl jumping up in excitement, dancing in childish joy, or instead, has she just been startled with fear or is she turning away to hide or flee? (The description explains, but I prefer to see it more ambiguously.) The dynamic energy of the overall image also creates a certain feeling of joy—like the simple joy of bodily motion. But that joy is dynamically at odds with the awkward pose of the figure and hidden face.

These many wonderful tensions breathe life into the image, giving it a raw visceral beauty and a quiet conceptual power. And that, to me, is a very good thing.

What Beth had to say about her images:
She Hides
Description: The other week ago, my eldest daughter was very anxious one afternoon. I couldn’t help myself and started to take some photos of her in this emotional state. I really love to focus on the natural emotion of children, as there is always a story behind each image. I felt with this image that my daughter, even though she hid from me, exposed so many elements of anxiousness, fear and un-want. She didn’t want to be seen. She didn’t want to be judged. An emotion all felt by all of use, particularly children.
Process: Apps I used were Snapseed, Filterstorm, Grunge, Glaze, Space Paint and Image blender. I always like to start and finish with using Snapseed. The other apps, I generally explore various textures, colours and save several versions of them. I then bring them all together in Image Blender and have a really good play with blending certain elements of them all together.

She turns away
Description: This image is part of the same photo series as the image above. My daughter really tried to resist me, and in doing this started moving her body in beautiful ways.
Process: However,I really wanted to help hide my daughter in my editing style with this image. I felt her feeling exposed, and even though I was the one exposing her, I then wanted to cover her up with making the image highly textured.

Apps I used here were Snapseed, Filterstorm, Grunge, Etchings, Photoviva, Photo fx, Image Blender. Again I started with Snapseed, and then developed heaps of various forms of the same image that contained different textures and different colours. I took them all to Image Blender ( I have to say that this is my favorite app) and blended them all together until I was happy with the outcome and I could do no more.

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Critique by Rose Sherwood
Images By Heather

Impossible This is a nicely layered and blended image .  The focal point is the young woman looking to the right in a wistful manner.   The rectangular format that her image is within is firmly connected to another focal point of a laced curtained window.  There is a water spicket  on the right of  side of the image,  it has a strong verticality and emphasizes and repeats the verticality of the window and young woman.  In the lower left side of the image is a flower that describes and separates the foreground.   This creates depth in the image. When this image is first looked at it seems to evoke a mood of remembrance and produces a nostalgic pang in the viewer.  But on further examination the window and woman seem to be tense  because of the scale of the clapboards of the building.    The clapboards are wide and large and don’t make architectural sense in relation to the scale of all the surrounding elements. Their size creates a dynamic tension within the image.  Another area of complexity is presented by the young woman.  She has been photographed standing in front of a fence, but, here she is contained near a lace-curtained window, free but not free within this image.   More tension is found in the foreground with the hydrangea.  This plant is a different color than the rest of the image;  it is  more pronounced and has a dark sepia tone that separates it from the rest of the subtance within the composition. The hydrangea is dry.  Its prime has passed.  The placement near the young woman could be a metaphor for the passage of time and the effects on beauty and youth changing and withering.  The clapboards, the window and the flower may be brilliant devices used by the artist whether on purpose or by a subconscious accident.

Practical Magic This is magical.   It reminds me of reading Harry Potter stories while traveling on the train to NYC many years ago.  The woman in silhouette, wearing a hat, does have the effect of an otherworldly presence and draws the viewer’s attention towards her.  Her right hand is splayed out on top of an open book that she holds and the left hand is holding the book from underneath.  Her hands look as though they are twisted but there is also an uncanny comfort in this  gesture and in the position that they presented.  There is also strength in these hands as they become a strong focal point within the image.  The woman is seated near wide open space that is cloud-filled and peppered with a flock of black birds.  There is a unified surface that is soft and has the look of looking through a glass surface.   There is also present a “mixtures” type of dusting that has become popular with artistic editing, this “dusts” the surface with a presence that has the illusion of another world.  It also has the effect of producing nostalgia within the overall image.  The clouds in the bottom lower left “float” and further enhance the magic specialness of this image.  The overall color of the photograph is a quiet combination of monochromatic red, blue and white. 3rd image:  This image depicts light and the sense of motion in a tunnel; at the end of the tunnel there is an explosion of light surrounding a tree.  There is also present a flock of birds that is flying towards the tree and light and their eventual freedom beyond the containment of the tunnel.  The surface of this photograph is soft, unified and blurred to produce a dream-like world.   The photograph is a low contrast B+W with no distraction of color.  The photograph contains the metaphor “…there is light at the end of the tunnel….”  The photographer may have been going through some life circumstance that may have consciously brought this image to its fruition. These three images are the work of one photographer.  It is the second and third images that possess the most similarities and I would be able to attribute them to the same person. These two images do not hold the tension that the first image has for me.  The first image is more layered and blended and the different things that are brought together into one picture make it more complex to decipher.   The second and third images are more to the point and are immediately understood.  I believe that the artist was able to present images true to intentions.  This artist has a full grasp of layering and blending.  This produces imagery that works on many different levels.  Also, the complexity of bringing story and metaphor to the images  is not perplexing to the artistic vision and  it is another element that adds to the intelligence that will connect the viewers to the work.

What Heather had to say about her images;
Impossible Intention: I’m usually shy about approaching strangers to take their photo.  After striking up a conversation with a group of grafitti artists mid-tag, I surprised myself by asking Tegan if I could take her portrait where she stood, facing the sun on a steel fence.  She was happy to comply.  In the edit process, I was taken by her youth and hopeful, eager expression despite her hard exterior features including tattoos, nose ring, leather attire.  The giddy emotion of connecting with strangers compelled a surreal feeling that I wanted to translate into the edited and layered portrait.

Practical Magic Intention: This lovely girl, riding the bart train on Sunday afternoon, struck me with her black hat and oversized book.  This time, I didn’t ask for permission but stealthily snatched the seat across from her as I attempted to capture the spectacle as nonchalantly as possible.  I couldn’t help but connect her witch-like ensemble with magic and make-believe.  Her hand struck me as a key element in the overall composition and I wanted it to be the focus of her sorcery.  Perhaps, it became an extension of the magic I feel in being able to conjure up photos in this way; layering, masking, seeking warmth and light in just the right combination to alter reality and make the unthinkable happen.

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Critique written by Tammy George
Images by Tony Nahra
Firstly, I am so very honored to have been asked to critique one of my peers from the world of mobile artistry. I absolutely love what Miss Anna has created with this forum. It is so vital that we learn from one another so that we can continue to develop. This community is rich with talented artists, and it is a pleasure to be counted amongst them. 

Night Tempest In this image I see a topsy-turvy city. I get a sense of the playfulness that artist may have had in creating it… introducing the city skyline of a clear blue day to the star sprinkled pitch black evening sky, and then with exact deliberation, floating some overturned clouds in between.

Most striking to me about this image are the tones and textures, so very rich, with just a subtle touch of a painterly effect. These give the piece a sense of drama, but the subject matter keep it light and playful. Secondary, I am enamored with the details of the city, al of those little buildings, each one containing it’s own story and it’s own set of people… each with their own stories.

The editing is seamless; attention to detail was taken in the masking and layering of the three atmospheres into one image. Not seeing the starting and stopping points of each image allows the viewer to step into the image and follow the story that is being told. The proportions of the 3 zones are quite harmonious. Just a hair more of any one of the atmospheres and the whole piece would be off balance.

One element that is a bit lost on me is the choice to have blurred vertical bands on each side of the piece (slightly more prominent on the left hand side). They start up in the clouds and run down into the city. Overall, the blurring does not distract too much from the piece as a whole. But I don’t see what the intent was to add it, or how it adds to the narrative of the piece.

All Things Must Grow This image is so very cinematic to me. A mysterious man heading off into an unknown future… just what exactly lies at the top of those stairs?  And I cannot help but wonder if the mischievous Amélie is just out of frame, spying on him and plotting some wonderful surprise.

Like the previous image, the tones here are rich, lush with just a hint of the painterly. The choice to go monochromatic with this piece really allow for the main characters (the man, the path, the shadow and the destination point at the top of the stairs) of this story to breathe and develop. The composition is balanced; the rule-of-thirds are at work here with the placement of the man.

The lighting and shadows are as much a character of the piece as the man, the contrast of lightness and darkness playing-up the mystery. This time the blur is in a horizontal band, running across the top third of the image. Unlike the previous image, I feel that the blur works well with this piece, contributing to the unknown that lies at the top of the path.

What Tony had to say about his images:
Night Tempest This is a composite of three shots: the city (Seattle), the clouds, and the night sky. I’m a big fan of putting something a little unexpected or off kilter in my images, and this is not the first time I’ve turned clouds upside-down. Adding the starry sky above perhaps pushes this image beyond “off kilter,” but what the heck! I won’t pretend I began this image intending to convey a deep message, but I like the message I see in it now that it’s complete: There’s a serene city, and a clear and peaceful night awaits, but first we have to get through this storm.

All Things Must Grow This is a shot of my husband that I took during a walk in our Seattle neighborhood. There’s actually a bit more editing in this shot than might appear at first glance. I removed a railing that ran up the center of the staircase, and I worked on the vegetation until I got the balance I wanted. Monochrome was a last-minute choice to emphasize the figure by removing other distractions. It was a flat, cloudy day, so I spent considerable time on the lighting effect on the figure, including adding a subtle shadow on the steps. The title could simply reference the abundant vegetation, but I was going for a secondary meaning: Strive to grow and the light will shine.

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Our Artists:
Leif Stark is a technical designer in New York’s fashion industry. She loves to travel and has been using photography as an outlet to express her creativity whenever possible. She enjoys capturing moments and finding the beauty in everyday life. From wildlife and natural landscapes to candid, street or cityscapes, Leif likes using her mobile device to photograph it all.
//  IG // Juxt //

Tony Nahra is a product and furniture designer in Seattle. His household consists of himself, his husband, two cats, an espresso machine, two ovens, a pair of hiking boots, travel shorts, and a stack of unread books
// IG // Juxt //

Jeff Kelley is, in fact, a postal employee (commonly known as a mailman) who stumbled upon mobile photography a year and a half ago. You can usually find him roaming the streets of Northampton, Massachusetts, taking pictures of a wide variety of subjects and pretending to work.

// IG // Backspaces //

Federico Sardi is the Bassoonist of the OSSODRE & Montevideo Philarmonic Orchestras. iPhoneographer. MPA Honorable mention (Performing Arts 2013)
EyeEm ambassador: @federicosardi Instagramers Uruguay’s manager Instagram Artistry  moderator

// Instagram: @federicosardi & @estopasaya // Backspaces // Twitter //  Blog // AMPt // Juxt //

Roberto Cuevas is a 16 year old musician and DJ based in Atlanta, Georgia. While playing multiple instruments, and having an interest in creating graphic artwork in a physical and digital manner, I’m fortunate to have multiple creative outlets for me to stay inspired constantly. As a learning artist, I’m always excited for new opportunities to connect with others who share similar interests, and who love art & music just like I love my turntables.

// IG // Juxt //

Beth Gibbeson Creativity is something that has always been in my life since a very young age. I am driven daily to create art, whether it is a painting, a drawing or photography. However, being a mother and witnessing the beauty of children has really triggered my imagination at this stage in my life. I am so busy running around in the day that having my iphone on me at all times allows me to take so many photos easily and spontaneously, capturing pure and genuine moments.
// IG //

Heather. San Fransico Bay area. Iphone 5 // IG //

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Our Panelists:

 Tammy George Shoot. Bang. Create… goes the girl!Armed with her trusty iPhone 4S and a passion to capture, edit and release, she adores sharing her funky-fresh vision with the world. Mobile Photography and Abstract Mixed-Media Art are her game and Punk Rawk Purl is her name. {Okay, Tammy George is her name, but most of you know her by her crafty name.} An artist and a designer at heart, she is in her comfort zone when she is stitching paper, sewing textiles, knitting wool, sculpting paper, and/or snapping photos.She first discovered the world of mobile photography upon the release of the Hipstamatic app, just a few months after getting her fist iPhone. It wasn’t long after that she was gobbling up photo editing apps in order to manipulate and transform her photos. It was then, that she fell madly, truly deeply in love with this crazy idea of creating abstract art with her phone. All of Punk Rawk Purl’s mobile images are shot by her, with Hipstamatic and then crafted on her iPhone using heaps and oodles of editing apps. Her favorites? Decim8, Image Blender, Snapseed, Camera+, Pictureshow, Pixlromatic, Picfx, Lo-Mob, Phonoto and Diptic.

// Juxt // IG // Twitter//

Richard Gray, aka @rugfoot on Twitter, Flickr and Instagram, takes and crafts images with his iphone camera and gives workshops (currently with The British Journal of Photography). He also writes extensively: a weekly column for App Whisperer, on his own blog iphoggy-bloggy and in various other leading publications, mostly notably The Guardian. He has given presentations and talks around the world, is a member of Juxt and has been a judge on various mobile photography competitions, most recently the Mobile Photo Awards. He is also a professional events photographer (rugfoot.net).”

//IG // twitter // Flickr // Juxt //

Rose Sherwood Rose is a retired art teacher. She  taught art on the elementary level for 22 years.  She also taught on the high school level and in a museum setting too.  She enjoyed teaching and misses the students.  Before teaching she worked in brain research because her first college degrees were in both the fields of Biology and English.   She met and married a great guy and when their son, Matthew,  was born, she went back to school to study art.  She  continued her education at RIT and earned an MFA in painting and photography and then returned and acquired a MsT in art education.Her teaching career was very full but one of the memorable times was being honored to be a recipient of a Fulbright Memorial Fund Fellowship to study in Japan.  It was a pivotal experience that changed her and her teaching practices. Her students benefitted from her experiences. Their daughter, Laura, introduced Rose to IG and returning to all things of photography has occurred.  IG was a way to communicate with family and friends about T., her husband, and his bone marrow transplant.  She has been as active caretaker for him.

// IG // Juxt //

David received a BFA from the University of Lowell in 1991, with a focus on illustration and mixed media. He spent the next 21 years developing his career as a successful interaction designer—tackling complex software problems and exploring new technologies. Shortly after getting his first iPhone, he took up photography again and since 2011 has fully embraced the new medium of iPhoneography.

// Instagram // iPhoneart // Flickr // EyeEm // Tumblr //

Rebecca is inspired by the beauty in oddity,  I’m interested in capturing that strange feeling between asleep and awake, the present reality and memories. The nostalgia that can be slightly unsettling but also strangely familiar.  I want to represent the human experience from a slightly surreal and always very feminine perspective.  I believe beauty, even in the ugliest things, can seduce a viewer.  It’s in this magically odd space I try to hold your attention.

// IG// Backspaces // Juxt //

Cindy is an award-winning professional photographer, iPhoneographer, and fine artist whose work has been exhibited globally, most notably in February 2012 at the Latitudes International Photography Festival in Huelva, Spain. There, she was one of only six iPhoneographers whose work was selected to be shown alongside that of many world-renowned photographers from the esteemed Magnum Photo Agency. From there, she has gone on to exhibit her work across the US and in Europe at the Oxford i-Festival in Oxford England, the Arthaus Gallery in San Francisco, The Soho Gallery for Digital Art in New York, the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art in Los Angeles, the Giorgi Gallery in Berkeley, the Santa Monica Art Studios in Santa Monica, the CS Gallery in Columbus, OH, the Baton Rouge Gallery in Baton Rouge, the Garden Gate Creativity Center in Berkeley, the Ocean County Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Ana, and at the Wynwood Exhibition Center and The Lunchbox Gallery in Miami. Her work has appeared in publications such as Architectural Digest Spain and she has been featured in online publications and blogs such as Pixels at an Exhibition, iPhoneography Central, The App Whisperer, and iPhoneogenic, where she was named one of the 50 most promising, influential, creative, and encouraging mobile photographers/artists of 2011. She is a contributing artist to three books: “Mobile Masters,” an iPad e-book book by Dan Marcolina, “Mobile Digital Art: Using the iPod and iPhone as Creative Tools” by David Scott Leibowitz, and “The Art of iPhone Photography” by Nicki Fitzgerald and Bob Weil. In January, 2013, Cindy was a presenter at the annual Macworld/iWorld convention as part of the “Mobile Masters Sessions,” the largest assemblage of iPhoneography talent and inspiration to date, celebrating a new chapter in photography’s history – the Mobile Movement.

// Web // Flickr // Eyeem:// Instagram // iPhoneArt://

Giulia is drawn to pictures that have a soul – like someone breathed life into them and left behind only the traces. A Melbourne based story-teller, she uses photography to capture the details and characters on the street and hidden in the shadows. With a background in Graphic Design, she can often be found chasing light, lines, forms, shapes, textures and typography; always looking for the beauty in the every day – the discarded, the abandoned, and the calligraphic. Her work is often abstract, sometimes dark, and focuses primarily on black and white imagery, though her signature splash of red is smeared across the lens of many of her photos like ink drops of emotion. As an image maker she likes to play with perceptions, adores ambiguity, and engaging the viewer – often leaving them with more questions than answers.

// backspaces // eyeem // ig // juxt // twitter

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Next month we will be exploring the world of landscape photography. If you have any questions concerning the critique or you would like to participate please send an email to juxtcritique@gmail.com.

15 Comments

  1. Thank you Richard for your time and your thoughts! Experimentation is definitely a defining (though sometimes disconcerting) part of my ‘style’, as you mentioned. I also appreciated your thoughts on a technical versus emotional approach as I hadn’t thought of it that way, but having read that, it rings very true.

  2. An amazing collection of creative images, critiqued with care and understanding. And a stonking good read!!

    • Thanks Sue! Cant wait to see your work up there soon!

  3. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this and understanding a new level to these wonderful artists and of course discovering artists that are new to me. Congrats to all

    • Thank you Glenda for taking the time to read it!

  4. Such amazing artist for both sharing their images with us and writing the critiques. This is a rich, full overview of artistic, mobile device photography. Congratulations everyone.

    • This was a great article. Thanks for sharing this. Having been doing this myself for awhile, it still amazes me the results that people are able to end up with using mobile devices.

    • thank you for helping us Rose. you know my deep love for you.

  5. I’m so honored to have my work featured on this forum. I absolutely love the idea behind this series. Thank you Anna and congrats for the great work! And a special thanks to Giulia for her amazing words. It’s an enriching experience to hear about your work from other artists. A nice break from the usual two-word comments on Instagram or other photo sharing services.

    • thanks so much for playing along with us Federico! You work is lovely!

  6. Really enjoyed seeing these wonderful photos and reading this post. Thanks Juxt, mobile artists and panelists!

    • Thank you!

      It’s a great initiative, isn’t it? Would love to see this forums more often.

      Greetings from Montevideo, Uruguay!

    • thanks for taking the time to read it! I am so pumped at the caliber of work and critique and this lovely community that is forming!

  7. A stellar read, really loved Cuevas and Sardi’s images, very inspiring.

    • Thank you, T-balz! Glad you like it!

      You can see some “sketches” (i.e. previous versions) and the original images used on this edit on my IG profile; @federicosardi

      Greetings from Montevideo, Uruguay