Venice Alley Art:
Found Abstractions

By Susan Rennie

For a year I walked through the alleys of Venice (every one of them) with my Jack Russell Terrier and my iPhone, photographing images on the back fences and walls: corroding or rusting varieties of metal, transmuted stained concrete, weathered paint, unfinished paint drips, translucent fiberglass, painted cinder blocks, an abundance of graffiti (this is Venice) — raw and in palimpsest (painted over and over).

I used the iPhoto app Hipstamatic to take close up im- ages. Hipstamatic recreates the look of analog, vintage film — think plastic toy cameras, Holgas, Polaroid, Lomography complete with square format, digital light leaks, vignettes, uneven edges. I found the results astonishing: brilliant, surreal, fulgent colors — with the look of abstract art. Hipstamatic allows the iPhoneogra- pher to choose from an array of about a 137 different combinations of “films” (Kodot X, Blanko Noir, W40) and “lenses” (Roboto Glitter, Helga Viking, Adler 9009) to create a variety of analog effects.

The excitement was discovering and using different combinations, using Hipstamatic as a tool to implement my aesthetic vision of a particular alley fragment. The choice is made before the shoot and there is no post production. Most of the images are macro, shot from twelve inches or less. For me, the re- sults have been enormously satisfying and sometimes splendidly unpredictable — a thrilling photographic trip.

I made the prints with an Epson 3000 printer and Epson Velvet Fine Art.  

To view larger images, click on each photograph.


Amoebic – paint blobs shot with a predominantly blue filter


Suffused – deliberate iPhone movement softened the paint streaks


Peeling – I got nice effects from thick paint peeling


Corrosion – corrosion of metal fences allow for rich Hipstamatic shots


Condensation – in the early morning metal condensation provided photogenic droplets


 Numero – close-up of partial gate number


Fracture – broken glass provided beautiful distortion


Palimpsest – painted over graffiti 

About this month's Photography: Susan began taking photographs in the late sixties during her doctoral candidacy at Columbia University. In 1970 her photographs of museum goers were used to illustrate the Museum of Modern Art Annual Report. The next year she studied with Lisette Model, a great photographer who mentored Diane Arbus. Photography was much more attractive to her than political philosophy, but life intervened with the advent of the Women’s Movement, taking her in a different direction than art. Rennie was involved with the Los Angeles Woman’s Building in the 1970s. After a long career as an academic and women’s health activist, she retired in 2005, and resumed her true avocation—photography. Having lived in Venice since 1976, she decided to take this historic, idiosyncratic community as a subject for her photography.  Visit Susan's website here.

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