Local Artists Incorporate an iPhone App in Latest Artists of Hawai‘i Exhibit

.5ppi makes prints and installations with the public’s help.

Editor’s Note: Through our partnership with the Honolulu Museum of Art, HONOLULU Magazine publishes a monthly blog written by Lesa Griffith, the museum’s communications director and a talented Hawai‘i writer on arts, culture and food.



The latest Honolulu Museum of Art’s biannual exhibition Artists of Hawai‘i 2015 includes several unexpected elements including a link to an iPhone app. Many of those who attended the opening reception paused to download an iPhone app that is part of printmaking collective .5ppi’s installation .5ppi fps.


The installation centers on a video made using traditional animation (meaning pre-computer, labor-intensive) methods. The work also includes studio collateral and ephemera, such as the woodblocks used to make the more than 9,000 prints created for this project.


.5ppi members Duncan Dempster, Noah Matteucci and David Randall at the opening reception for Artists of Hawai‘i 2015.


The .5ppi artists are Duncan Dempster, Noah Matteucci, Joseph Nam and David Randall, and they aim to do projects that have the public working with them to make prints and installations. Their practice turns printmaking into performance.



To produce the video, they selected original and found source materials, broke them down frame by frame into still images, and translated them into relief prints using their own .5ppi modular woodblock system. They made prints, which they photographed with a phone and reanimated and edited into a video.


The app, which was developed by Shawn Taras, digitally gives the user’s photos a .5ppi pixelated look. “It was a way for us to send our installation away with the visitor, letting them take it with them, putting it in their hands so they can participate in the work,” explains Dempster, who is also the executive director of Honolulu Printmakers, based at the Honolulu Museum of Art School. “That’s the ethos of our projects, giving people an experience in printmaking. A lot of our past projects have involved that kind of interaction. It’s a strategy to share the process with people.”


The cool thing is people are using the app on photos they take of other works in the exhibition and posting them on Instagram—making a digital mashup of Artists of Hawai‘i. That’s what you call collaboration.


Dempster says the app also helps viewers understand the work. “It reveals a little about the video. When you watch the video, it’s not always obvious what you’re seeing, it can be a little abstruse. But when you start viewing the world through the app, you begin to see how that resolution treats the world.”


Last September, 249 artists digitally submitted work to be considered for this year’s Artists of Hawai‘i. Museum director Stephan Jost, deputy director Allison Wong and contemporary art curator James Jensen selected .5ppi and seven other artists. The result is a show with a strong print and photography slant.


You can download the app for free in the Apple App Store, search for “5ppi.” Artists of Hawai‘i 2015 is on view through Oct. 25.


Lesa Griffith is director of communications at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Born in Honolulu, one of her early seminal art experiences was at the Honolulu Museum of Art, when on a field trip her high school art history teacher pointed out that the ermine cape in Whistler’s Portrait of Lady Meux was not just a cape—it was visual signage leading viewers’ eyes through the painting.