Butterfly Babies with Urbian's Retro Camera Application

As promised, here are some images from my journal in made. Creative Space's 2012 art journal show.

Urbian's Retro Camera android application oozes all the hipness of Hong Kong’s plastic Diana camera and all her clones, but its images are tiny at a decent print quality ... we're talking 7.6cm square. Okay, that's still about the same size of a 600 type Polaroid, which might be okay if we didn't live in a time where billboard-sized prints are de rigueur for exhibitions.

What's more, the application seriously blows highlights to the point of turning olive skin like mine into an opaque white mask. Not surprisingly, I largely banished this baby to application hell ... until one afternoon when I decided to test if I could use its flaws to my advantage.

So, armed with a broken doll, vintage yarn holder and a piece of red velvet brocade, I was actually thrilled when Retro Camera turned my composition into an ethereal white “butterfly baby” shape. Conveniently, the butterfly is an ancient symbol in many cultures for the human soul, so blends well with the human form.

I overlaid a close-up of a butterfly wing, photographed through a microscope, over the form to give it texture and detail, and to suggest flight, before adding a scatter of golden cat’s eyes, courtesy of one of my Russian Blue/British Shorthair boys. Cat’s eyes also have a spiritual connotation — according to Chinese folklore, good eyesight allows cats to see spirits in the dark. And to dream one has cat’s eyes apparently indicates a person can find their way through a dark and troubling problem.

Finally, I tried to think "outside the square" about that small print size, re-photographing my butterfly baby, still with the tablet, in sections on the computer monitor and piecing these back together in Photoshop. The result has a photocopy effect that I love that it lends itself to image transfers. I also quite like the mismatched alignment of the four sections because I'm a fan of anything that draws attention to process.

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