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?

OOPS! ALL LOCKDOWNS!

A while ago I was thinking about the saying “best laid plans of mice and men”, so I looked it up. Turns out it comes from an old English poem, written in 1786. A mouse builds his home on a deserted field, when the time comes for the farmer to till the field, the mouse house is upended. The poem is an apology to the mouse, but what I find more interesting is that the phrase has survived for over 200 years!

Anyway that’s it. I made a tone of plans for how I was going to work on the second project for my home studio course. Alas lockdown has gone and upended all those plans, leaving me to put my little mouse brain into overdrive to figure out how to deliver this project.

So these works don’t photograph very well, but well enough for me to talk about them.

In my original proposal I talked about creating a series smaller works. These would focus on how non destructive collage would allow me to use cutouts in various interesting ways, not so easily done with traditional collage. So essentially these are meant to be tech demos, if that tracks?

My issues with these images and why I left them behind are twofold.

One, the difference in colour quality between the two is too large to ignore. Even in these awful photos you can see that the work on the right is far more saturated than the other. There are other small issues with these, visually they don’t mesh well, they’re balanced very differently, and at least (to me) it’s very obvious the two weren’t made to be apart of a series together.

Secondly, I don’t really feel much for this idea, It was interesting when I wrote the proposal, but at that point I was really just in love with this holographic paper.

this video shows the prints in a better light

The following set of prints were tests in blind embossing on the holographic vinyl. I took an old linocut I produced during lockdown, and ran it through the press pretty tight.

these are two images of the same print, just under different light, I really enjoyed how these looked. Unfortunately, over time the paper flattened out, as it is a kind of plastic, and there are only faint traces of the image left behind.

Since the vinyl paper is actually self adhesive, basically they’re large rolls of rainbow sticker paper, I could use a process similar to chine colle. This would mean that I would run the lino, adhesive paper, and some thick paper through at the same time. I hoped this would help the image hold it’s shape

I ran one through on wet paper, and another through on dry paper. The dry adhered to the paper flatly around the print, and was rather warped in the center of the print. The wet print created a lovely rippled affect around the edges of the print area, to me this was the most interesting development of the experiment.

My intent moving foreword is to take this embossing process, and combine it with the photographic screen prints on the holographic paper…

or at least it was

as for what’s next with this project, I’m honestly not really sure. Just before lockdown was announced I was reading a study about the chameleon effect, a phenomenon where people unconsciously imitate others to feel socially comfortable. I’m also interested in bringing the concepts of collage into a more digital interactive space.

But that all depends on how this lockdown goes.

JB

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

G̵̭̕l̶̞̔ĩ̸̲t̷̘̊c̵̗͐h̴̯͆ī̴ͅn̸̝̐g̵̳͝

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.