From App to Art: Poetics

The average smartphone user spends over an hour on his or her device per day. That’s a lot of time to be staring down at one screen. Some of that time is spent sending emails, checking social media, or surfing the web, but a good portion of that time is spent exploring other miscellaneous apps. What if there were opportunities for smartphone users to exercise their artistic skills on these devices? What if there was an easier way to create that didn’t involve a paintbrush or a journal?

This is where Poetics comes into play. A new app from artist Seth Indigo Carnes, Poetics “explores the concept of an infinitely editable, object-oriented poetry” (Poetics.me). The concept for the app emerged from Carnes’s poetry installations from 2007, which combined magnetic boards and movable words with which viewers can interact. Poetics, one part smartphone app and one part electronic art installation, is the software version of a blank canvas.

The app is fairly self-explanatory: add or take pictures, edit, and then add text. The photo editing capabilities are impressive, including Instagram-esque filters, and also separate settings for brightness, contrast, saturation, warmth, sharpness, and focus. Text (resembling pieces of magnetic poetry, like those seen on refrigerators) can be added and moved simply by touching and dragging. Pieces can then be titled and shared via social media or email.

  Picture prior to Poetics editing (taken by the author).

Picture prior to Poetics editing (taken by the author).

  Image after Poetics editing.

Image after Poetics editing.

The $1.99 price tag on Poetics may be discouraging for some, but Seth Carnes efforts to make the app a sustainable product are admirable, and worth the cost.

Poetics’ relevance to the community at large remains a question. While it does further the “app as art” concept, the app still seems confused as to what it wants to become. Is it a heightened social media platform? A companion to other social media platforms, similar to PicStitch? Or perhaps, is it a private creative outlet that provides the opportunity to share work? Regardless of the answer, creative-minded citizens will welcome a new way to use their smartphone.