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Nevada State College’s new exhibit phones it in

Photos shot with the Hipstamatic app for iPhone are featured in the Nevada State College exhibit Vegas From the Hip.

All the clarity, immediacy and high-tech gadgetry of digital cameras will never hinder the cult worship of unrefined retro snapshots. The bad lighting, shadows and odd tint create unintentionally poetic images.

Knowing this, San Francisco-based company Synthetic launched its Hipstamatic iPhone app, making easily accessible the aesthetics of bad analog in the digital age—and creating an onslaught of mostly amateur photographers posting their clever Hipsta pix.

Nevada State College shows exactly what the app can do in its exhibit Vegas From the Hip, which features 99 images of Las Vegas, taken by photographers using the $1.99 iPhone app.

The show is curated by NSC English professor Gregory Robinson, who got hooked on the “dream-like and surreal” quality of the Hipstamatic images while toying around with the app last year on vacation.

“The pictures are beautifully saturated, and often have a nostalgic feel,” he says. “They look like vacation photos again, the kind you would pull out of a dusty box in your parent’s attic.


Vegas From the Hip
Through May 31, free, opening reception April 29, 5-8 p.m. Nevada State College Library, 303 S. Water St., 992-2803.

Hoping to reach students and the community with an accessible art form, he put out a call for images. The only criteria: They had to be shots of Las Vegas, taken from the iPhone with the Hipstamatic app.

About 250 images were submitted, most of them directly from the phone. The works feature signage and architecture and are displayed close together in the library’s limited space, creating almost a montage effect.

The square images—saturated, hazy, black-and-white and sometimes blurred—capture new Las Vegas sites and near-forgotten and crumbling landmarks and will likely have guests downloading an app based on the story of the fabled (and possibly fictitious) Hipstamatic 100, described as an early 1980s cheap plastic 35 mm camera with a plastic lens, hot shoe flash and automatic focus.

As Robinson explains it: “There is a nice irony at work here. All the processing power of the digital camera works to make the picture appear as if it was taken from a cheap analog camera. You aren’t just taking a picture here, you are making a statement about the nature and purpose of digital photography.”

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Kristen Peterson

Kristen Peterson joined the Las Vegas Sun in 1998 as a general assignment reporter. In 2003, she turned her focus ...

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