Digital into Analog: Modern Collage

Well, if there’s anything a global pandemic has taught me, it’s to just slow down. Before this all started I would squeeze any creative minutes out of my day. On the tube, (the subway in American), I would tinker with Photoshop Mix and create little sketches out of layers of mis-fired photos. I missed that commuting time when this all started, not because of the actual commute but of the contemplation time, the listening to music, the chance to create these little snippets, which were in a way a kind of artist meditation for me.

I kind of thought of them of emotional Polaroids, snapshots of where I was, checking in with myself. They always seemed to include a blurry, out of focus shot to help create movement, and reminded me of how you could stick a Polaroid under your armpit, right after you took it, and get the ink to stay warm and smudgy, creating these amazing blurry effects (what, you never did that???). This was in the early 2000’s, I have no idea if the ink is still the same, and if it’s still possible to do that, but there’s kind of a nice nostalgia that goes along with that and me remembering how my friend Kyra showed me the magic trick.

I’ve posted some of these sketches- I used to tag them #subwaysketches, but they’ve now simply become #couchsketches. They have been my own quick version of a beautiful set of double exposures I saw in a book by Fischli and Weiss, of an exhibition in 1999 in Paris of purely Flowers and Mushrooms, collected over 10 years worth of walks in gardens. The book was reprinted in 2016 and described as ‘so trippy they’re actually (weirdly) soothing’* . I saw a slide show of them in at the Hamburger Banhof in Berlin in 2017, the slides incrementally changing and with them the atmosphere of the room. It was the most calming exhibit in the museum to be at one with this slightly psychedelic but false sense of nature.

My project this week, however has been to slow my sketches even further, not as slow moving slides, but to take them back to analog, after a friend casually threw this out as challenge. And it has been a challenge!

I started with 2 existing paintings that were supposed to be seascapes, but just weren’t inspiring me for some reason, so there is a layer of initial colour that some times works, and sometimes doesn’t. I also wanted to allow for drips and smudges that organically occurred in the process of using inks and let them build into the layers of the piece. This is also the first time I’ve used layers of acrylic glazes to tint the images slowely, while creating depth.

Of course, the blurs are disproportionate, everything is in the wrong place, as you can see if you scroll to the original digital photographs below.

But although, I think I’ve ended with 2 pieces inspired by my sketches, rather than being scaled up versions of them, and it’s been a process I’ve enjoyed immensely. The pictures are now for sale and prints available at Saatchi Art in a collection I hope to grow in the upcoming weeks.

Red Flag & Green Flag, 2020, 2 separate digital pieces created from the same 5 photographs.

* all pictures Courtesy of Fischli and Weiss, taken from The Cut article by Catie L’Heureux

https://www.thecut.com/2016/07/peter-fischli-david-weiss-flowers-and-mushrooms.html

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