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Create Amazing Pixel Art With This Free iPhone App

What if, instead of toy camera filters, we rearranged our photos into logic-driven confetti?

  • <p>Pixel Is Data is a new iPhone app that filters your pictures in an unusual way.</p>
  • <p>Rather than add retro coloring or blur, it rearranges the very pixels of the image to reinterpret it.</p>
  • <p>So what you get is a strange hybrid: This is the photo you took, just without the literal arrangement of information as you perceived it.</p>
  • <p>But there is logic at work, organizing pixels by color, for instance.</p>
  • <p>The results are a mix of art styles--this one certainly feels like a digital Rothko.</p>
  • <p>And the creator believes that by turning away from representational photography, people might focus more on the comments you make on such images via social networks.</p>
  • <p>I’m not positive that’s the case…</p>
  • <p>…but that said, even the best Instagram accounts can feel aesthetically commoditized at times.</p>
  • <p>Besides, the photography we take today is based upon the decisions of engineers who’ve built these systems to their tastes.</p>
  • <p>Why not place control back in our own hands?</p>
  • 01 /10

    Pixel Is Data is a new iPhone app that filters your pictures in an unusual way.

  • 02 /10

    Rather than add retro coloring or blur, it rearranges the very pixels of the image to reinterpret it.

  • 03 /10

    So what you get is a strange hybrid: This is the photo you took, just without the literal arrangement of information as you perceived it.

  • 04 /10

    But there is logic at work, organizing pixels by color, for instance.

  • 05 /10

    The results are a mix of art styles--this one certainly feels like a digital Rothko.

  • 06 /10

    And the creator believes that by turning away from representational photography, people might focus more on the comments you make on such images via social networks.

  • 07 /10

    I’m not positive that’s the case…

  • 08 /10

    …but that said, even the best Instagram accounts can feel aesthetically commoditized at times.

  • 09 /10

    Besides, the photography we take today is based upon the decisions of engineers who’ve built these systems to their tastes.

  • 10 /10

    Why not place control back in our own hands?

Most photos we take document reality. Just look at Instagram. It’s full of pictures of ourselves, our friends, our pets, and our dinners. But just as art has long since ventured out from the representational, couldn’t we do the same thing with our smartphone photography?

That’s the question posed by User Studio’s Matthieu Savary, creator of the free iPhone app Pixel Is Data. It’s a photo-filter set driven by a concept Savary calls "non-deterministic pixel organization." These wild images are actual CMOS sensor data from real photographs. But rather than add a few vintage effects to your latest picture, Pixel Is Data allows you to rip into the core of the photo’s information, rearranging pixels by tone and color value, stretching, blurring, and triangulating reality in a strange cross of expressionism and impressionism, new aesthetic and social media.

"One thing is always overlooked in proper digital cameras and in photo apps on smartphones: the order and shape of pixels could be changed. Though they never are," Savary tells Co.Design. "Even if a CMOS camera module is going to gather data about the real world in the ‘right’ order (i.e. the figurative way) … there is nothing less truthful in an image produced by an algorithm that’s going to reorganize the pixels of a photo in the order of their RGB components than in the corresponding, figurative image.

"The RGB-organized image—which, by the way, holds the exact same pixels—brings forward new information such as the density of a color or the general luminosity of the picture."

Savary’s arguments get to the core of the last century or so of art criticism, but they also directly challenge cellphone photographers to think beyond the Instagram filter. Digital cameras, full of all sorts of helpful exposure, color, and autofocus features, have raised the bar of consumer photography to pro levels, making us so competent at representational work that even a really amazing Instagram feed is somewhat typical. By considering the photo anew, Savary would like to enable photographers to push the medium forward, to rethink "what photography looks like" and to challenge the status quo by inundating Instagram with algorithmic art.

Because let’s face it, our selfies could really benefit from a fresh approach.

Download it here.

[Hat tip: Creative Applications]

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