We think of our mobile phones as tools. They are products designed to enhance our communication as well as to entertain us with their games and other fun features. They’re functional and sometimes they’re fun … but could they also be a form of art? A number of artists around the globe have certainly thought so. They have created photography, sculptures and mixed media collages with the mobile phone as the center of the piece. Take a look at the following 12 images and see if they get you thinking about your phone in a new kind of light:
1. A Day in the Life of a Cell Phone Artist.
Most artists who create pieces related to the mobile phone are doing a single piece on the subject. A few choose to do a series. But Rob Pettit is an artist who has created a whole body of work related to the cell phone. Collecting over 5,000 phones, he has created multi-media pieces that each look at art in a new way. Additional images can be found on his website; they’re all worth taking a look at.
2. The Value of Art.
This photograph of a palm pilot and cell phone by Eric Kamp sells as a poster at Art.com for over $100. The palm pilot serves as the focus of this image but the mobile phone in the background suggests that it also plays an important role in the message that the artist is trying to send.
3. Mobile Phone Mobile.
In a great play on words, this sculptural piece uses multiple mobile phones to create a phone mobile. This was one of the pieces on display last year at the Maryland Contemporary Museum in Baltimore when they opted to be the first museum to showcase an entire collection of multi-artist mobile phone art.
4. Cell Phone Light Art.
The phone itself does not have to be the subject of the art piece per se. In this example, the cell phone was used to create a light pattern that was then captured in a photo. The resulting image is one that doesn’t really reveal that the cell phone was the tool used to create the art although you can see the phone in the bottom right corner of the image if you look closely enough.
5. Functional Art.
The whole idea behind the cell phone as an art form is that you can take something functional and see it through the lens of “art”. This sculpture keeps the piece itself functional although it’s been repurposed from its original role as a phone. Instead, the phones here have been attached to a helmet and set to play an ever-changing array of songs into the sphere around your head. This is art that appeals to multiple senses. It’s just one of many cell phone sculptures created by Joe McKay.
6. Samsung Advertising Effort.
In an attempt to gain attention for the Samsung brand, the company put together a “mobile phone globe” last year which was displayed at a mall in the Ukraine. The sculptural art piece apparently wasn’t considered enough to grab the attention of passers-by so they added some mime-style performance artists to make the promotion pop.
7. The Social Message.
There is an exhibit called Africa.Dot.Com: From Drums to Digital happening right now in San Francisco at the Museum of African Diaspora. The purpose of the exhibit is to examine the development of African countries as they emerge into a modern way of life, looking specifically at the impact of technology on that development. Mobile phones in the third world are an important part of the development of those countries so this art serves to send a message about that social issue.
8. Woman as Art Form.
You can barely see the phone in this pastel drawing but it’s an important part of the art piece nonetheless. You want to know more about this woman … who is she talking to? What is she talking about? Is she on her way to see the person that she is on the cell phone with or is she headed to meet someone else? The woman is what catches your eye but the phone is what makes you wonder about her.
9. Modern African Women.
This is a painting by Th Gomillion which has some of the same aspects as both the “social message” and the “woman as art form” (above). On the one hand, we see modern African women who are speaking on their cell phones, suggesting the importance of the phone to all cultures. On the other hand, we have three interesting, unique women and we want to know more about who they are and what they’re talking about on those phones. The simple black-and-white design is an eye-catching way of expressing these messages.
10. Nude with Cell Phone.
This artistic sculpture by Andrew Wielawski shows a blend between historic art and modern life. The sculpture itself looks like it could have come out of the Italian Renaissance. However, the person sculpted is holding a modern cell phone. It’s one of those things that you see and have to stop a moment to think about.
11. Mobile Flash Art.
The phone doesn’t have to be the subject of the art piece. Instead, the phone can serve as the platform for delivering the art. That’s the thinking behind the mobile flash art movement which seeks to promote graphics designers as artists who exhibit their work on the mobile phone instead of the canvas. The potential to reach a larger audience is certainly greater when you’re working on a cell phone than hanging your work in a small gallery!
12. Drawing on a Mobile Phone Touch Screen.
Here’s another example of the artist using the mobile phone as his canvas. In this case, the artist is Allan Paris, a visionary who draws images directly on to the touch screen of his mobile phone. The images are typically things that he’s seeing out in the world where he draws from observation. He then transfers the images from the phone to a computer to create the rest of the piece.