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.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

September 25, 2013

These are a series of collages produced from digital materials downloaded from the net and are, in a sense, the first real digital collages I’ve made that mirror the type of handmade collages I made from found materials.  I have been collecting a large archive of downloaded materials and still have a couple of hundred images still sitting in my downloads file.

It wasn’t difficult finding old paper or brown paper – the type of papers I always liked to use as background materials.  Images vary of course and are taken from a variety of sources.   I’m fond of half-tones and use them in various ways here.  Again, I have to type in words to find the materials.  These collages also make use of digital brushes that I was able to find.  Some creators of the brushes have asked to be credited which I would be happy to do except that I haven’t been keeping track of downloads and noticed only later that some creators have asked to be credited.  If anyone objects to my using any of their brushes or other materials, I am prepared to remove pieces from the collage or give credit.

I, of course, hope to print and possibly sell most of the collages I produce although am becoming more aware of the problems involved in using and crediting other’s materials.  I think of collage as using ‘detritus’ as subject matter so don’t actually want to use other people’s personal or artistic creations.  I don’t mind the idea of some collages merely existing online only and am thinking more about a site where there could and would be free collaboration on digital collaging with shared materials and brushes.  I will introduce the Bric-0-browser that Faham has developed when its ready and hope to provide it to other users who might be interested in dynamic collages that change as the sources change. 

Most of these files are large and will print out at 24 X 32”.  A couple of them are medium sized and I’m now finding that I create small, medium and large collages based on the size of materials downloaded.


While most collages are cut and paste (and I’m now thinking they may be too grid –like as a consequence of so many square or rectangular selections), there is some use of cloning brushes again and, as mentioned, stamps or brushes.  I had just finished "Achilles" ironically when my left retina detached and I had to go to the eye clinic.
DigitalCollage#83 RZ

DigitalCollage#84

DigitalCollage#85 Oracle

DigitalCollage#86

DigitalCollage#87 Locust

DigitalCollage#88 Crux

DigitalCollage#91 20/20

DigitalCollage#94 Pyrates

DigitalCollage#95

DigitalCollage#96 Achilles

Friday, 13 September 2013

September 13, 2013

I’ve started an archive of digital downloads of the type of materials I would use to make handmade collages – old papers, documents, illustrations, typographical elements etc.  I’ve managed to download quite a lot of stuff so far.  
Digital Collage #61 The Beagle

Digital Collage #62 I Am a Man



These are the first two collages I’ve made with purely digital materials.  The files are large and print at 32 X 24”.  I’ve discovered, as I’ve been making collages from digital downloads, that I don’t like the look of materials that have been enlarged beyond their resolution as they produce a vague ‘photographic’ effect.  I like the highest resolution possible for prints and like the textures to be as literal as possible.  I’m now making small collages, roughly the size of handmade collages (book page size), printed on 8.5 X 11” paper; medium size collages which print on 17” wide paper; and larger 32 X 24” prints.  The size of the digital downloads determine the size of the collage in which they’ll be used.  I’m looking forward to creating and printing really large collages on 44” wide paper.

Monday, 2 September 2013

More Google Collages

I apologize to my few readers - I had intended to catch up on the blog and improvements this summer but suffered a detached retina and had to have surgery.  I've been recovering over the summer but I've been unable to do much on the computer.  Anyone who is actually following the blog, I thank you for your interest and hope you'll return now that I'm posting regularly again (I hope).

These collages are more Photoshop lessons.  I was thinking more about having to type in words in order to get images and materials for collage so was trying to think of words that were less specific such as generic, detritus, commodity etc.  I was also continuing to ask myself why I am attracted to certain kinds of materials or have certain kinds of "affectations".  While I like the idea of collage art made from cultural detritus and am interested in its connections to human memory, I wonder if it always has to be about "old" stuff.  I am currently collecting a lot of "old" stuff in my archive - mostly old paper and documents and old images of various kinds.  Do I need to be more contemporary in my ideas and activities in collage?  I thought about the Pop artists who were contemporary in their day (Eduardo Paolozzi and the English Pop collage sensibilities as well as the American artists) and thought about trying something in that vein.  Again, the work relies heavily on downloaded photographic images that have been manipulated with PS effects.

I've also added one of the still-lifes I was composing at the same time.  Again, I think of these as experiments or lessons and, as much as I admire Pop art, don't see myself really heading in this direction.
Digital Collage #63  Generic #1

Digital Collage #64 Generic #2

Digital Collage #68  Commodity 

Digital Collage #74 Still-life

Digiral Collage #82