Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A New Photographic Movement: iPotential

Before moving onto my new photographic art movement idea I think a brief history will provide the context for my proposition.  Below I've listed only some of the highlights of movements identified in this relatively young medium of photography.

Naturalistic; selective focus on one primary object with the remainder slightly blurred.

Pictorialism; soft focus painterly compositions.

Symbolism; an equivalent of reality often sexual or sensual in nature.

Photo-Secession; between Pictorialism and Straight photography primarily of American themes

Straight; clarity of detail and automatic recording of reality.

Futurism; conveys the sensation of movement; translates speed into visual equivalents.

Surrealism; unorthodox juxtapositions, inherent strangeness of reality, manually manipulated.

Humanist; sympathetically documented social reality as witness to humankind.

Group f/64; California-based reaction to Pictorialism; clarity of detail to point of obsession.

New York School; small cameras, natural light, grainy, out of focus, disregard for composition.

Photo-realism; obverse of Pictorialism; translates precision of photography into paintings.

Luminism; precise rendering of chromatic and atmospheric effects; "new color photography"

Postmodernism; questions the notion of novelty or originality; recycled artistic images.

Although photography in general has a short history as a visual medium, the above movements are only a small sampling of its eclectic history.  And yet I find it incomplete in these modern times as it doesn't cover the latest technological advances of the ubiquitous form of image capture today; the smartphone.  For the most part, the typical smartphone user has limited use for the camera function other than to do the perfunctory recording of events, public behavior or the favorite capture of every plate of food before consumption.  That aside, there are a few of us that actually view the smartphone as not just a quick back-up, but also a primary tool in alternative capture of high art, now evident in galleries and museums.

To this end, I propose a new movement that has definite traction as far as movements go. I've only been using an iPhone for just a year but the majority of images I capture have to do with acquiring what I consider the "raw material" for later use, not the typical end product.  So as a visual artist, I'm constantly searching and capturing images that have potential as not only a raw material, but at the same time envisioning what I could do with it; looking into the future in a way.  Based on this approach I'd call my new movement, iPotential© playing off both words of "iPhone" and "potential"  Here's my definition that I'm sure will evolve over time.

iPotential is an intuitive, and pre-visualization approach to the visionary interpretation of the observed reality as abstract inspirations that maximizes the potential of a raw image by challenging the status quo.  Using an iPhone to capture images and infinite stream of apps to shape the final image this "no constraints" approach intentionally creates a final image with minimal, if any resemblance to the original, traveling from reality to absurdity and beyond.  
© 2013, Joanne Scherf

Basically these iPotential images have potential as a totally different format after performing the wizardy of multiple apps to get the desired effect or final vision. Keep in mind, after my iPhone capture, I'm using a wide variety of apps to continually shape, direct, and caress the raw image into a new and completely disassociated end product.  So I'm talking way beyond using the standard apps of choice that just add frames, borders, texture, or aged effects. The end result of iPotential is not achieved by only one button or one app approach.  A single image can go through as many as twenty iterations before I feel I've reached the ultimate interpretation of my vision; the limitations are largely based on one's creative energy.

© 2012, Joanne Scherf
When I'm searching for the raw material I'm also envisioning the end product.  Furthermore, I seek out all types of raw material in the form of landscape,  still objects, architecture; you name it.  I think there are tons of possibilities out there if one only looks from the perspective of potential, possiblities and opportunities.

© 2012, Joanne Scherf
And from an architectural perspective, there are so many building materials that attract me, either glass, steel, or concrete, the possibilities are endless.

© 2012, Joanne Scherf

So next time you pass by a building, landscape, or still life object and consider it mundane, envision the possibilities of what this raw material has to offer.  Only in its infancy, I think this new photographic movement.....iPotential© must be taken seriously in this new day of smartphones and who knows what next technological advance is on the horizon.


  1. i love what you're doing and thinking!

    please add me to your email list! and let me know when you're coming to ann arbor and have some time........i have my iPhone work up now at WSG Gallery on Main St.

    regards, nina

  2. you can see what i'm doing on my website or go to