I used to be a realist. But I grew bored working from photos as you are limited to the camera’s flattened record of reality. I tried working only from observation but was limited by what I could actually see. Neither realisms had any engagement with lived reality-the cult of the overwhelming glut of digital fragments. The late critic, Robert Hughes, sites the direct discursive relationship of images to the real word as that which the art of painting used to depend. In the early sixties, Robert Rauschenberg’s desire to produce an honest work that mirrored the excess of fragmented images resulted in his silk-screened photo collages that created an open-ended inventory of modern life
Braque, Picasso and Kurt Schwitters glued real objects; newspaper clippings, headlines, bus tickets and cigarette wrappers to work that was more closely related to their personal reality than traditional realism could ever be. Rauschenberg’s contribution was using enlarged images so the scale of the image no longer had a relationship to the real. He collaged image fragments to create an information overloaded montage. But Rauschenberg didn’t have an iphone. His work now appears quaintly dated, yet his influence, for the last 50 years, has cast a wide net among artists.
Count me in among artists using cut and paste collage techniques to confront the free associative hodgepodge of pixelated images of the floating world that we navigate daily. As a citizen of the consumer culture, I have succumbed to art making dependent on the constant shopping for and hording of printed images. I shop the art magazines of the last 30 years, snipping and clipping--an equal opportunity appropriator.
And like Rauschenberg, I enlarge the image. The original collage is projected on the canvas and under painted before taking on the task of reproducing each little scrap of paper as accurately as possible.