Ground to Perfection
As with all digital effects or filters, one can never go too far. There are no rules, just common ways of doing things. Why a digital camera program like Showfoto should have a set of distortion filters to start with suggests that it's perfectly ordinary to do non-ordinary things when you're working in the digital medium.
The blockwave filter is the one I like to use most. (Actually it's the only one I use from Showfoto's plugin repertoire.) It has two sliders; one to make the blockwave pattern smaller and the other to do something pretty much the same thing. It doesn't really matter how they work; what matters is what they do to the image.
If you set the top one to its maximum, 100, and the lower one to over 30, then you get the scratchy surface texture that you see here. It's almost like a kind of blur effect except it has a lot of irregularities in it. It's the irregularities that make it interesting. They make it creative.
Although I'm sure this kind of imagery isn't for everyone, I find it rather intriguing. Showfoto has a border feature too. Using the default setting of 10% and the color white, I find it adds a very classy look to these otherwise rough, primitive things.
Painters like Turner and in a few cases, Whistler, made some very interesting, almost abstract renderings of real things, mostly storms or dark, smudgy night time scenes. I find these images here, although they certainly aren't in the same artistic category, have the same vivid yet also abstracted quality to them. They suggest so many things although, at first glance, its easy to shrug them off as mere smudges.
Art's a funny thing, but if we try to think about the experience of it I think we'll come to a solid and confident understanding of what it is and also what it isn't. Art is uniquely human and associated (mostly) with civilization and all that is noble about human living (reflection, criticism, expression, beauty, creativity..). Studying it, I suspect, is probably much more practical and profitable than most people would think. Art is way of being.
Sure, go ahead and laugh.