Your Shattered Phone Screen is Art

An East London artist has turned personal tragedies into a gallery show.


We find beauty in the idiosyncratic lines of the butterfly wing, or the snowflake. Why not the shattered cell phone screen? That’s the question being asked by East London artist Sam Hodge, who is selling a limited-edition book of broken displays.

Hodge, 52, started drawing broken iPhone screens in 2013, zeroing in on the unique crack patterns and the stories behind them. “People seem delighted when I ask how it happened,” she told the Telegraph. “It’s almost like therapy for them.”

She’s collected enough for an exhibit of prints plus a 45-page book, A Catalogue of Misfortune, which, true to form, features a glow-in-the dark-cover.

The key factors in how a phone breaks are the individual device’s resistance to abrasion and the relationship between surface compression and inner tension. This is why one drop might not crack anything and another might create an abstract etching of the phone’s display.

Here’s one of the stories you’ll find in Hodge’s book from a romantic named Miguel.

“On his way to a first date, Miguel flew off his bicycle on Hackney Road and landed in a muddy puddle. He was shaking, thinking that he had broken something, just as shoulder and arm had been broken six months before. This time it was only his iPhone that smashed. He was still gutted about that as he had just had it repaired after a previous accident on Hackney Road. This time it’s the back that has cracked most. He has stuck it together with green duct tape. The damage gives it character and he is going to keep it like that until it stops working. He arrived at the date bleeding and covered in mud. ‘I don’t always look like this,’ he said. There was no second date.”

I feel you, Miguel. Can someone please submit “Pollocking” to Urban Dictionary so we can class up the act of drunkenly bobbling your phone at 2 a.m.?