Tuesday, 22 October 2013

October 22, 2013

These are a few more digital collages similar to earlier handmade collages.

Most of the collages I have been posting in recent weeks are, as I have stated, more experiments in learning to use Photoshop than what I would ultimately like to see my work in digitality become.  I think that I have been assuming that my own aesthetic will come back into play once I have gathered enough digital material to create my own collages but I’m realizing that I have a number of different directions in mind and so, in fact, do not have anything specific.  I’ve been enjoying ‘playing’.  Last weekend I created a number of ideas for sculptural collages that I may post later.

My collaborator, Jeff Smith, proposed last week that I stop casting around experimentally and concentrate on a body of work that focuses on exactly what it is I think I want to express.  Jeff stumped me, in a way, by asking me what it is exactly that I want to make art about and I’ve spent the last week thinking about this rather than creating any new files.

I’ve been thinking about the history of collage and Levi-Strauss’ description of a ‘bricoleur’ as someone who constructs or ‘hobbles together’ new expressive forms from materials found on hand.  On the other hand, Picasso pasted chair caning onto a painting to make the painting more ‘real’ in a physical sense and less illusory.  Kurt Schwitters, my favorite collage artist, made collage from everyday ‘scraps’ but ‘scraps’ that were contemporary to the culture he was addressing rather than old or ‘vintage’ materials in the ‘collectable’ sense.

My own feelings about collage over the years have been inclined toward the idea that ‘spent’ cultural materials (throwaways and materials that do not still have cultural currency or symbolic status) can be reused to create new expressive statements and that content and meaning can be arrived at intuitively in formal compositions through the juxtaposition of disparate pieces of ‘material’ be it paper, text, or images.  It reminds me that there is an element of surrealism that I had forgotten about. 

I have also always thought of collage as a paragon of memory in some sense in that memories do not often follow any logic or rational chronology.  One writer in the local paper called memory a “drawer of random thoughts” and I agree.  Most of us know this intuitively and know that a smell, for example, can easily trigger a memory of some kind. 

It is this ‘trigger’ that I think I’m looking for in the work that I hope to create.  If I can make a statement of what I think my aesthetic purpose is, I’d have to say that I want to create work that addresses the indelible sadness of being that we all experience as time passes and things change or fade.  We find some compensation for this sadness only in spirituality or aesthetics.  I believe that anytime we experience an aesthetic ‘rush’ or ‘thrill’, we are experiencing a release of sorts from that inevitable sadness.  An ‘authentic moment’ of being as Heidegger would have put it.

With this in mind, I will try to embark on a series of collages, using the Bric-o-browser that Faham has created, to see if I can be more specific about my aesthetic purpose.  These collages will by dynamic in that they are still connected to their digital source and will change over time as sites change.

Book Collage #1 Spell Book

Digital Collage #105

Digital Collage #106  Rant

Digital Collage #107

Digital Collage #114 Pair

Digital Collage #118
I’m still trying to figure out how to speak of aging and change on the internet.  I’m also thinking of trying to use contemporary detritus rather than the types of ‘vintage ephemera’ available online.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

October 8, 2013

This is another aside of sorts. 

At one time I was excited by the work of Robert Rauschenberg and was a big fan of the combine paintings and silkscreen paintings.  I was thinking about his later lithographs, of which there were many, and how they were essentially collages of photo images made into prints and were, to my mind, less interesting than the combine works.  Since I have been using more photo images in these digital collages and wondering about the efficacy of doing so,  I decided to try to imitate his style digitally. 

One of my other favorite collage artists was another American, William Dole, who made exquisite collages from snippets of text from old documents glued to watercolored grounds.  I also wondered if I would be able to imitate his work digitally.

Here then are two large Rauschenberg-ish collage/prints (22 X 32”) and two small Dole-ish collages (8.5 X 11”).  The Rauschenberg imitations were both made in an afternoon.  I first painted an underlay and then collaged photo images over top.  I did not bother to soften the edges of the photos or anything but just tried to integrate the photos into a workable composition.  I left these for a while as it was just an experiment but when I did finally print the first of these (Miss NASA), it printed beautifully.  The digital underpainting printed as if the entire image had been rendered in watercolor – the effect printed is quite striking.

Digital Collage #89 Miss NASA

Digital Collage #90 Orbit

Digital Collage #99 Love Feast

Digital Collage #103 Alexandria
The Dole-style collages took longer even though smaller because I had to find and snip out a lot of small bits of text from various sources.  I took a few liberties with the second of the two.