When I originally read about David Hockney’s new iPhone drawings, I didn’t give them much thought, especially after seeing the ridiculous picture (above) of the iPhone on a mini easel in the Mail Online. This week Lawrence Weschler contributes an interesting article about the drawings in the New York Review of Books that casts the project in a new, less gimmicky light. “Over the past six months, Hockney has fashioned literally hundreds, probably over a thousand, iPhone images, often sending out four or five a day to a group of about a dozen friends, and not really caring what happens to them after that. (He assumes the friends pass them along through the digital ether.) These are, mind you, not second-generation digital copies of images that exist in some other medium: their digital expression constitutes the sole (albeit multiple) original of the image….
“Increasingly, over the past several months, it is the summer dawn, rising over the seabay outside his bedroom window, that has been capturing Hockney’s attention. ‘I’ve always wanted to be able to paint the dawn,’ Hockney explains. ‘After all, what clearer, more luminous light are we ever afforded? Especially here where the light comes rising over the sea, just the opposite of my old California haunts. But in the old days one never could, because, of course, ordinarily it would be too dark to see the paints; or else, if you turned on a light so as to be able to see them, you’d lose the subtle gathering tones of the coming sun. But with an iPhone, I don’t even have to get out of bed, I just reach for the device, turn it on, start mixing and matching the colors, laying in the evolving scene. He has now accomplished dozens of such sequential studies, sending them out in real time, so that his friends in America wake to their own account of the Bridlington dawn—two, five, sometimes as many as eight successive versions, sent out minutes apart, one after the next.’
“I asked Hockney whether he’d mind my sharing some of these images with a wider audience across a printed medium, and he said, not really, he more or less assumed that the pictures would one by one find their way into the world. ‘Though it is worth noting,’ he adds, lighting one of his perennial cigarettes, ‘that the images always look better on the screen than on the page. After all, this is a medium of pure light, not ink or pigment, if anything more akin to a stained glass window than an illustration on paper.'” Read more.