The art is more fulfilling on the other side of the studio

I feel like my approach to artmaking could be more easily compared to a scout collecting merit badges, than an artisan pursuing meaning or proficiency. Every year It’s a crapshoot as to what medium will feel engaging, and this year, at least so far, it seems to be collage.

This ain’t my first rodeo, I already had a whole folder of collage material ready to get started with. I’m really bad at visualizing ideas without references, so I collect images and use them as a base for works.

I chose a method of collaging that preserves the cutouts, allowing me to reuse and rearrange them. I got a panel of foam board, and taped a sheet of clear acetate to the top, leaving it to sit like a flap. Then I can arrange my cutouts on the foam board until I’m happy, and when I’m ready, press the acetate down, flip it over onto a scanner, and scan it at a high resolution. I then can take It into photoshop, set the white balance and adjust the levels to replicate how it looks in the real world.

A few troubles I had to work through early on.

I originally though that using glass would be the best solution, so using the glass from an old picture frame I sandwiched the collage together. Unfortunately when I scanned the image it came out quite blurry! This might not be the case with all glass, but it’s what I found

Troubles with large files! when scanning I aimed to capture the files at 2400 DPI. Opening and working on files this large can be difficult, photoshop seemed to have a lot of trouble with it. I found the program GIMP allowed me to open the files, which would let me at least resize it to around the final print size. This most likely has some effect on the final quality, but honestly the files are so detailed I think you still are left with quality images.

Sometimes when flipping the foam board to scan shifting can occur, which van be frustrating. I found that if its possible at all, arranging the collage face down on the scanner bed fixed this problem. If I absolutely had to use the foam board, I would blow hot air on the acetate, causing a bit of condensation, allowing it hold a little better.

Here is what I had at the time of the first formitive feedback aession. The aesthetic is all over the place, and thematically there’s very little to bind the works.

What came out as the strongest part of the works was the reversed figures. In the image above, the one that looks like a family portrait but the people are made of trees, let’s just call it a family portrait? How I achieved this was to find cutouts of figures that had an interesting image on the reverse side. Moving forward I decided to pursue this as the key aspect of my works this semester.

The challenges of creating works like this are simple. Finding images that fit this criteria, and fit the aesthetic im looking for is really difficult! Fortunately I found a few more I had already cut up that fit the bill, and also had a collection of books called ‘the masters’ with lots of two sided plates.

The next challenge was to figure out what this all meant! So im left with some questions

What does reversing the figure mean?

How can I ethically work with images I don’t own?

How do I present the final work?

Is this what I want to be doing?

Salvaging the Glitch

Before moving on from the glitched experimentation, I attempted to salvage what I could, Looking at ways I could expand on what I had made. Bringing the images into a 3d environment and playing with photomanipulation.

Bringing in the corrupted images into 3d studio max to attempt creating something more organic, though I quickly realized I had no idea what I was doing. Though I do want to expand on this, using Unity maybe as it’s more beginner friendly.

Mostly this first phase was me spinning my wheels, I was pretty aimless and really just trying to make something In a program I know that i have some proficiency in. Starting this year was pretty difficult, I had this overwhelming feeling of being lost. Now that I was confined to my home the possibilities of what I could make were so broad and far reaching. This is a terrible thing sometimes, too many options! but working through ideas and realizing what I don’t want to do has been the theme of 2021


I’ve decided to start recording my visual diary in a digital format. Since a lot of my work is turning digital or requires a lot of digital manipulation, it’s better show through digital means. I’m also a faster (and neater) typer than writer.

Glitching old work by editing the hex in a text editor

So starting from the initial prompt of the glitched figure, I decided to take pictures of my work and edit in a text file. The results of this are always random, it can be difficult, what makes one image break out in rainbows completely corrupts another image. above is the reult of slowly chipping away at an images, removing all of one character at a time, eventually this left me with a completely black image. I also animated this image, and a few variations which I’ll show below

Above is an example of what the text editor looks like, this text describes on whole image, a self portrait that’s been reduced in size and turned black and white. The larger and more complex the image is the longer the text file is, it seems to have little bearing on how difficult it is to manipulate though.

Eventually I decide against pursuing this as an option in this class, my main problem was that I couldn’t connect it to any concept I was interested in. It also kind of made me sick to be looking at the garish colours, and provided little control of what I could make. Though this eventually would roll into my ideas around collage, in the sense that I’m not in total control of what imagery I can find to use.

Below is some of the other experiments with this style that I tried out. Some of them are really interesting, I especially enjoyed when the colour range would be shifted, resulting in a rainbow colour specturm.