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Posts Tagged ‘photography exhibition’

One month ago I was told I had to write about trends in the app market. I had nothing in mind but soon I found my self busy in checking the Facebook posts of my contacts. Then is when I discovered the Hipstamatic app which seems to expand its use among the iPhone users more and more. This application is not new but I was amazed by an increasing community that share their pictures and ground a retro trend in photography (not based any longer in realism).

Hipstamatic app was born on September 2009. Within the first month it started growing to the top 10 apps in a few countries and in November 2010 the application has sold 1.4 million. [1]

“We didn’t know it would be such a favorite app amongst photographers”, said Estrada.[1]

The big reception among consumers made the creators think about developing an official website where the public could upload their pictures and submit them into a contest. It was called the Big Hipstamatic Show.  The contest offers winning prizes to the best snap shots like iTunes vouchers [9]

Reception: fan communities

FACEBOOK

The page http://www.facebook.com/hipstamatic is the facebook official site for the debate of fans about their favorite application. The users can share their pictures with other users besides participating in the monthly contest Hipst-a-Day![10]

The contest Hipst-a-Day! encourages the users to share their pictures in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag #HipstaDay. Furthermore, every month there is a contributor guest (Samuel Gasc, the creator of the Twitter community HipstaChallenge is the contributor guest in May) that set the rules for the monthly contest. [10]

Hipstamatic app jumps out the world of the digital as it is the primary purpose of its creators through the Hipstamatic events that can be found in the Facebook page. [10]

HIPSTAMATIC EVENTS

Some selected and latter examples are:

  1. #iSnapSF Street Photography Exhibition Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 7:00pm. San Francisco, California in the Haus Of Hipstamatic.
  2. Hipstamatic Showcase :: Chicago. Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 7:00pm. Chicago, Illinois in the Subterranean
  3. Hipstamatic + Nederland (detailed below)

The Hipstamatic events reveal that the Hipstamatic app is being used by professional photographers. It is the case of the exhibition Hipstamatic + Netherlands in the Kunsthal Rotterdam that was celebrated from 29 of April, 2011 until 26 of June, 2011 [11]

Hipstaprints from renowned Dutch photographers such as Vincent Mentzel, Michael Kooren and Maarten Laupman are shown besides the contributions of fans that could participate uploading their pictures in the Flickr group: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Hipstamatic+Nederland.[11]

As it has been advanced in Hipstamatic events the Hipstamatic app has been welcomed by professional photographers that contribute to give prominence to the app.

Michael Christopher Brown, a contributing photographer at National Geographic magazine has used the Hipstamatic app to capture the war of Lybia challenging the standards in war reporting. His photographs can be found in his personal webpage: http://www.mcbphotos.com/#

The media including the New York Times and the Business Insider have hailed the Hipstamatic app. Some comments from the media are[13]:

“From the minute you launch Hipstamatic, you can tell this is a different kind of camera app… Your iPhone is transformed into a small toy camera.”

Beau Colburn, Macworld.com

Or Bob Tedeschi, NY Times,

“Scores of photography titles are in the App Store. Many are terrific, but not one matches Hipstamatic’s blend of simplicity, serendipity and art. “

As these quotes set the Hipstamatic app is a phone camera application that counts with the recognition of the society in which it was quickly naturalized.

MAKE IT STRANGE

In the section About of the Hipstamatic’s Facebook page the Company Overview is found. In this section the company clarifies that “the Hipstamatic App is an iPhone App that seeks to recreate the magic started in the 80’s with ‘the little plastic camera with the golden shutter”. And that their mission is to “bring back the look, feel, unpredictable beauty, and fun of plastic toy cameras of the past” [14]

In this text it is needed to be highlighted the terms magic and past. The aim is to recapture a quality that was lost by the use of magic, by making it strange, by making the impression of an old photograph via a digital new system. Technology has a direct relation to the phenomenon of innovation and novelty while society may associate novelty with eternity and the new technology with magic. [15] The theory of Gunning is ultimately related with the creation of the Hipstamatic app in the words of Estrada:

“The reality is that we take a bad camera and make it worse in the most beautiful way”[16] And that is how the creators transform the old media that now have an innovative appearance.

The creators of the Hipstamatic app defined themselves as artists [16] Making it new and making it strange is the task of the artist. [17] The creators have made strange the lo-fi photography and the camera Kodak Instamatic to renew their effects through the new technology of Hipstamatic app. The process of defamiliarization involves making the old media strange through art; as Schklovsky puts in art removes objects from the automatism. [17]Thus, aesthetic and rhetorical means refashion the discourse away from the automatic.

5.2 NOSTALGIA

The uncanny (the result of making something familiar strange) recalls the discourse of wonder (utopia, parody or nostalgia) to renew the effects of old technologies [17]. In the case of the Hipstamatic app the discourse applied is that of nostalgy.

The Hipstamatic app as mentioned in upper sections was formulated in terms of the creators’ nostalgia for printed photography. And nostalgia is used to appeal the public who may have wistfulness for lost eras according to Om Malik[18]

This nostalgia found its peak with the HipstaMart Print Lab to transform your shots from your iPhone into Type C Fuji Crystal Archive paper. The orders are made either directly from iPhone or online at Hipstamart.com and it takes around 5-10 days to arrive [19]

HOW TO MAKE HIPSTAMATIC FAMILIAR: IMITATION, SELF-DISCOVERY, REMEDIATION AND TRANSFORMATION

A new technology implies processes of imitation, self-discovery, remediation and transformation. Imitation can be a way to introduce a new technology as familiar[20]. Henry Jenkins discussed that still photography imitated visual art.  Hipstamatic app seems to approach photography to their origins with the vivid colours and magic look imitating the thirty-year old lomography cameras. The process of remediation of the Hipstamatic app implies taking the analog process of capturing pictures (choosing film, flash, and lenses besides the old-fashioned aesthetics) and remediates it into a digital procedure; plus adding the social networks sphere.

The old technologies may derive in cultural niches for specific audiences, be used for new purposes or develop new functions in a ground of competition[20]. Hipstamatic app is restricted to Apple users with an interest in artistic photography[21]. That is the Hipstamatic app as a cultural niche.

REFLECTION ON SUCCESS

Kristen Taylor (2010) asks an interesting question about the Hipstomatic app success in her article:

“What accounts for the embrace of retro when phone cameras are finally      decent?”[22]

The Kunsthal Rotterdam webpage wrote in the Nostalgie section of The Hipstamatic exhibition

“With his manipulated pictures Hipstamatic gives a new, fresh and dynamic to the sometimes boring reality”[23]

The reality capture by conventional cameras seems to be boring and Hipstamatic app is the way of defamiliarizate the pictured reality.

And finally, others point to the capacity of sharing pictures among a community (Instagram) as a factor of success since empowering members of a given social service to create great content will make them passionate about the service itself according to Kathy Sierra [22]

The general approach to the Hipstamatic app found among bloggers is that of amazement. New technologies are represented as a novelty with astonishment in order to provoke familiarity, curiosity and investigation of the new stimulus[23].

What makes the application so appealing is the different range of effects in colors and light via the combinations of lenses, flashes and films. All these create a new stimulus in the general public who is used to conventional photography. “When examining the laws of perfection, we see that as perception becomes habitual, it becomes automatic”[24]. To understand the new stimulus that appeal to the public is necessary to work through the laws of perfection. Hipstamatic app as a way to create artistic photography “removes objects (conventional photographs) from the automatism of perception and after we see an object (Hipstamatic photographs) we become to recognize it. The technique of art is to make objects unfamiliar to make to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged” [24].

Hipstamatic photographs offer unrealistic images which increase the difficulty in interpretation and their interpretation demand further effort from the viewer. The more abstract an image is the more power it has for the viewer, because their visual sense must do more work to interpret it and if they have to do more interpretation, they will feel a stronger reaction to the image[25]. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object, the object is not important [26]

To sum up, Hipstamatic app is not a simple application but it is an invention to reflect on. Hipstamatic app has been framed around several old media and trends: Kodak Instamatic, lomography and lo-fi photography, printed photography. But offers the interactivity of the digital era: sharing pictures in social networks (mainly Instagram) and digital storage. It has had a large acceptance among Apple users, but this fact limits the Hipstamatic app to a cultural niche and thus, it is mostly unknown for the mainstream public yet.


[9]  The big Hipstamatic show in http://hipstamatic.com/ Consulted on 12 May 2012

[10] Facebook. Hiptamatic in http://www.facebook.com/hipstamatic Consulted on 12 May 2012

[11] Facebook. Hipstamatic + Netherlands in http://www.facebook.com/events/211249855568716/ Consulted on 12 May 2012

[11] Facebook. Hipstamatic + Netherlands in http://www.facebook.com/events/211249855568716/ Consulted on 12 May 2012

[12] Balazs Gardi (July 25, 2011), The War in Hipstamatic in http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/07/25/the_war_in_hipstamatic Consulted on 12 May 2012

[13] The big Hipstamatic show. Press section in http://hipstamatic.com/press.html Consulted on 12 May 2012.

[14] Facebook. Hipstamatic. About in http://www.facebook.com/hipstamatic/info Consulted on 13 May 2012

[15] Gunning, Tom (1998) Re-newing Old Technologies: Astonishment, Second Nature and the Uncanny in Technology from the Previous Turn-of-the-Century

[16] Plummer, Libby (16 November 2010). “Hipstamatic – behind the lens”. Pocket-lint.com in  http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/36769/hipstamatic-iphone-app-android-interview Retrieved 13 May 2012

 [16] Plummer, Libby (16 November 2010). “Hipstamatic – behind the lens”. Pocket-lint.com in  http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/36769/hipstamatic-iphone-app-android-interview Retrieved 13 May 2012

[17] Gunning, Tom (1998) Re-newing Old Technologies: Astonishment, Second Nature and the Uncanny in Technology from the Previous Turn-of-the-Century.

[18] Malik, Om (Oct. 29, 2010). Instagram: Already Over a Million Pics? in http://gigaom.com/2010/10/29/instagram-already-over-million-pics/ Consulted on 13 May 2012

[19] Plummer, Libby (16 November 2010). “Hipstamatic – behind the lens”. Pocket-lint.com in  http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/36769/hipstamatic-iphone-app-android-interview Retrieved on 13 May 2012

[20] Jenkins, Henry & Thorburn, David (2003). Towards an aesthetics of Transition in https://nestor.rug.nl/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tabGroup=courses&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fcontent%2FcontentWrapper.jsp%3Fcontent_id%3D_5974748_1%26displayName%3DLinked%2BFile%26course_id%3D_66358_1%26navItem%3Dcontent%26attachment%3Dtrue%26href%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fweb.mit.edu%252Fcomm-forum%252Fpapers%252Fmit_aestheticsintro.html Consulted on 13 May 2012

[21] Apple. iTunes in http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hipstamatic/id342115564?mt=8 Consulted on 13 May 2012.

[22] Taylor, Kristen (2 November 2010). Fast Company. FC Expert Blog. What Does a Future of Retro Camera Apps Look Like? in http://www.fastcompany.com/1699620/what-does-a-future-of-retro-camera-apps-look-like Consulted on 13 May 2012

[23] Kunsthal. Hipstamatic in http://www.kunsthal.nl/22-681-Hipstamatic.html Consulted on 13 May 2012

[22] Taylor, Kristen (2 November 2010). Fast Company. FC Expert Blog. What Does a Future of Retro Camera Apps Look Like? in http://www.fastcompany.com/1699620/what-does-a-future-of-retro-camera-apps-look-like Consulted on 13 May 2012

[23] Gunning, Tom (1998) Re-newing Old Technologies: Astonishment, Second Nature and the Uncanny in Technology from the Previous Turn-of-the-Century

[24] Schklovsky (1917) Arts as technique. Page 4 in http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~cultagen/academic/shklovsky1.pdf

[24] Schklovsky (1917) Arts as technique. Page 4 in http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~cultagen/academic/shklovsky1.pdf

[25] Long, Ben. (Aug 5, 2011). Macworld.com   Why we love Instagram, Hipstamatic, and the lo-fi photo trend in http://www.macworld.com/article/1161514/whywelovelofi.html Consulted on 14 May 2012

[26] Schklovsky (1917). Arts as technique. Page 5 in http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~cultagen/academic/shklovsky1.pdf

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