Flesh and Digital Sovereignty

I’m going to talk a bit more about some influences for my latest project Halls of Galeria in this post, I aluded to a few of these artists and concepts in my proposal. Depending on the page layout you might be able to see the first thumbnail, so you might already know things are about to get weird, so consider this your content warning!

@Cool3dworlds / Brian Tessler and Jon Baken

Cool 3d Worlds is a project by Brian Tessler and Jon Baken, both 2d artists and musicians who make in 2015 started making bizarre animations on the platform Vine. Since then they have gained massive popularity with their recognizable style, doing work for MTV, Nike, and Adult Swim.

I can’t remember when I first saw their work, but i remember being obsessed with it! Around the same time I was still obsessed with anything that had a counter cultural spin to it, bizarre content like Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job, and Aqua teen hunger force. there is definitely an element of “this is so weird and only I can understand it” happening here with young Jake, but the work definitely has merits beyond it’s oddity.

Something that really sticks out in all their videos is the freedom with which the ‘camera’ moves between vastly different scenes, like waking up from a dream only to find that you’re in another dream. The worlds all have a strange sense of structure, while hard to follow, there is usually a diving into a specific element, only to pull back and reveal all these odd creatures inhabiting the same space.

@Flesh_Dozer / Jess Johnson

New Zealand born artist Jess Johnson’s work is highly recognizable, and takes full advantage of modern technologies. Johnson talks about being the master of her own world, and that building these digital realms is a source of control for her. Visually there are obviously similarities between my current work and her style, but I feel with Johnson her images focus on a very visceral experience of pattern and movement, what I am aiming for is a more discordant world with more organic feeling experiences.

Above is a great artist profile on Johnson, and it also features Simon Ward, who has been animating Johnsons work.

Anor Londo / Dark Souls

For anyone from the art world, this is probably where I should bid you farewell, I’m going full nerd right now.

Before the release of Dark Souls 3 I got really into the souls community through lore videos and playthroughs. Content creators like EpicNameBro and VatiVidya made videos that were so earnest and loving towards this game series, attempting to explain a world that gives very little away through narrative means. They relied on item descriptions, cryptic dialogue, and illusions to religion and architecture to understand how the world was formed and persists.

It’s hard to describe the feeling that playing these games gives, but there is a profound sense of emptiness, but also importance. It’s hard to know though, if I hadn’t got caught in the hype of the community would I still feel the same about the games? They’re amazing simply for their gameplay, but the mythology surrounding the digital world you inhabit is really what transforms the games from simple media to an experience.

Pound, Stezaker and Höch

Patrick Pound

I think the single thing that made me appreciate and connect with Pounds work the most, was him referring to his practice as a puzzle he engages in. I also like to think about my relationship to the images I cutout to be a sort of game. I set myself rules and attempt to work within those confines. Rules include no printing off images to cut out, everything I cut out should stand on it’s own, and trying to source everything from books I happen across in a normal day.

That second one might be confusing, but I just have this idea of an images integrity, so if there is a portrait painting, I would cut out the image, add it to my collection, then use it later, I’m not cutting out images for specific works, more building a collection.

Museum of Air, 2013, Patrick Pound, Mixed Media
The Photographers Shadow, 2012, Patrick Pound, Mixed Media

John Stezaker

A teacher of mine once heard Stezaker give a speech. At the end of the speech he took questions, and my teacher who was a big fan asked his opinion on digital collage. His response was less than enthusiastic. She didn’t go into great detail about what he said, but it boiled down to digital collage not being real collage.

This in mind, I can’t imagine Stezaker would have any great love for my work. Maybe If i captured my work with a camera instead of a scanner? but probably the most If I just glued my work down, LIKE A REAL MAN! /s

Despite this I still love Stezakers work. It’s simple, smart, elegant and really just so smart. Hearing him talk about it though feels like eating a crouton sandwich. So I won’t subject you to that, instead I’ll post several images for you to look through. They require very little explanation. Each work feels like a coy little smirk, begging the response, “oh I see what you’ve done”

Marriage L, 2007, John Stezaker, Collage
She (Film Portrait Collage) III, 2008, John Stezaker, Collage

Marriage VIII, 2006, John Stezaker, Collage

Old Mask IV, 2006, John Stezaker, Collage

I really loved this style of collage, just after high school, before I started studying art. I had but a humble tumblr blog and I posted poetry, along with some photos where I had taken American presidents faces, and placed wood knots over where their skin should be. I can’t place exactly what I found satisfying about it, the texture, the way the grain mimicked the shape of the face, but there was something to it. I see it here too in Stezakers Old Mask series.

For one of my more recent projects I attempted to recreate this effect. While I liked the result, It didn’t really fit with what I was working on. One for the vault.

Howdy, 2021, Jake Brown, Collage

I did incorperate this idea of a “through line” though, In wh-why… me? you can see parts of the background image are followed through on the larger figure. This helps cement him as native to the domain, while the smaller figure is out of place.

In this extract it’s easier to see how the rolling swirls from the background, meet up with the forest floor of the larger figure

Hannah Höch

I didn’t really look at Höch’s work for this latest project as something to emulate, instead I looked at her work as a counterbalance to Stezakers more controlled and subtle style of collage. Höch’s work feels like bending the limits of collage to send a desired message. Whenever I look at her work I feel like she is simply painting with images.

Actually, you know what, maybe I’m more inspired by her than I thought!

Untitled, 1930, Hannah Höch, Collage
Indian Dancer: From an Ethnographic Museum, 1930, Hannah Höch, Collage
With Seaweed, 1950, Hannah Höch, Cut-and-pasted papers, torn papers, and gouache on paper

Höch’s work has a wonderful crudeness to it, I really admire artists who can make work so lo-fi, yet so refined. I always feel I have to work my collage into oblivion, making sure everything sits right, and that the colors are replicated perfectly,


Of course, If anybody knows any interesting facts, or outstanding works by these aritists, please comment down below.

I’m also always looking for more artist references!