Updated: Sep 13, 2020
After making so many digital collages last semester, I was keen to do a lo-fi magazine scissor and glue job on this 'ReMiX' assignment. The concept of the assignment was that each student would do one generative artwork, and this would be edited and 'remixed' into a new artwork by each of the three people in our small group. In turn, I would 'remix' the generative works of the three artists in my group.
In his essay "In Defence of the Poor Image", Hito Steyerl writes, "The poor image [...] is a visual idea in its very becoming". The idea that printed replicas could create a new 'becoming' is something that inspired me. I wanted to collage a new cosmos from replica images.
I have been reading many gnostic Christian texts recently and I've been inspired by an expansive idea of the cosmos, at particularly a mystic union of energies and consciousness. I enjoyed cutting up a bunch of magazines and re-mixing images of artworks, photos and nature and creating a new cosmic realm. Hannah Hoch's surrealist collages have also been a great influence recently.
After I made the collage I took a photo on it with my iPhone and ratchetted up the vividness of the colours. It seems that especially during the inactive, quiet drudgery of COVID isolation in Melbourne, I latched onto vibrant and dynamic movement resident in this image. The work is a lot busier than I am used to making - perhaps due to the pandemic I have had an empty schedule for so long I am finding busyness in my art!
Given it's busyness, it has been interesting to see what components of the work the other artists in my group (Soile Paloheimo, Elle Sedlarevic and Lucy Ramsay) have focused on. It is a truly exciting and bonding game to see what comes back from my friends in response to my work. More on that later...
This is Soile Paloheimo's collage linocut. She said she wanted to deal with the current distressing situation – how she felt about it personally and how it displayed in the media. She wanted to look at the mental condition in all of this and convey a sense of hope. Soile said the origins of the squatting figures are from artwork located in Docklands, Melbourne. "Meeting 1" is a sculpture of eight men crouching made by a leading Beijing artist Wang Shugang. The struggle with the situation is how we are together in this, but still we only meet each other virtually or through the media. Reflecting the current situation, she have carved masks for the figures and the title of her work is a Haiku:
Run over death. Threat, alert, farce, together I'm weapon.
Shutdown lockdown, mission to care. Stay safe, be brave shield
I really enjoyed remixing Soile's artwork. I wanted to make it a bit less buoyant and a lot more deathly. Whilst I really love her positive message, I also felt that there was a darkness of mood that came with how life has been throughout lockdown.
On photoshop I had fun 'liquifying' her straight lined background to create a sense of disorder and 'ruin' the printing of her poetry. It felt a little unfair to Soile that I overwrite her positive personal haiku and use warped red text to command, "Just try not to die"! It was nice to be able to lean on the rules of the assignment because without her permission this would have seemed to be a little disrespectful to Soile!
I coloured Soile's masks red because I have been thinking a lot about ebola and the red death masks of the Edgar Allen Poe short story during COVID.
This is my completed work. Soile's text is almost unreadable, except for the words "threat alert mission to care". The dark circles in the background seem like eyes and the crouching figures seem like menacing Poe-esque demons.
Soile liked my ominous take on her artwork! She said she was reminded of Kalevava, the Finnish National Epic compiled from oral folklore and mythology. She said there is a very famous painting made by Finnish painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela called Lemminkäinen's Mother (1897). The painting depicts a scene from a poem where the hero Lemminkäinen has died and his mother has dredged the pieces of her son's lifeless body from the river of Tuonela (the realm of the dead or the underworld) and sewn them together again.
Soile totally just out creeped me in this remix!
After this somber-toned work, I couldn't wait to do something more happy and introspective. The perfect source work was from Elleanor Sedlarevic, who made this beautiful generative photo she took at home on 35mm:
Last semester we spent some time looking at Andrew Gunnell's cloud inspired digital collages whilst we learnt how collage on Photoshop. Here is one of Andrew's beautiful images:
I decided to get back onto Photoshop and make a set of seperate digital images on Photoshop. Given the time spent on my computer for this I needed to remind myself of the best way to set up my home computer!
My favourite of these iterations was called Eye Floaty, inspired by artist Lucy Ramsey from our group who did some interesting explorations of eye floaties last semester: https://lucyclaireramsay.wixsite.com/lucyramsart (Links to an external site.)
After making a good number of images I decided to make a zine from this work. Andrew had showed us how to divide the page into eight sections, and I placed a digital remix of Elle's work on each page. I used her original for the front and back pages - split over the two frames. It was interesting to extend the cropping and manipulation of Elle's work throughout the making of this zone.
I enjoyed looking at artist Lesley Duxbury who did a series of stunning cloud images with words printed over them. Here is a particularly beautiful one of hers:
I wanted to incorporate words into the zine, and after looking around, I used a lovely poem called Big by Melbourne poet Fleassey Malay, my sister Rebecca shared with me. For some reason, poems, words and clouds seem to go together. I was initially going to do a haiku, Soile style, but Fleassy's poem seemed to fit with the contrasting word themes: big (ironically printed on a tiny zine), intimate and close (despite the image being of the vast and distant sky). I've since bought Fleassy's book, it's terrific:
I thought it very 'remix' to print my sister's photo of the poem in grey scale, dissecting it with scissors, and physically gluing it onto the zine
Like with my own collage, I wanted to intensify the colours of my work. So I took a photo of the work and digitally enhanced the saturation and vividness. I liked the way the glued down words and mish mash of cloud images seemed to become a cohesive piece.
I have printed about 20 copies of my zine, folded and mailed them to classmates, friends and family during COVID. I especially sent a zine to Elle and Fleassy for collaborating with me for this project! I love how the lo-fi folds and imperfection of a zine makes it such an endearing object to hold and read. If anyone would like one, please contact me through this website!
Lucy's generative image was a screenprint she had made of a painting of a collage - talk about remixing! It was titled: Consumed by Desire and focused on cult themes and religion. Lucy said she wanted to explore how people are consumed by their desire for searching for a purpose. She was struck by how people can devote their lives to something so uncertain and wanted her artwork to look confusing, provocative and creepy.
After two digitally oriented remixes I wanted to get back physical arting again. The religious Lucy's theme was not lost on me as I painted with water colour, gouache and and pencil whilst watching my church's service on zoom! Here is a pic of our home studio and next to it, a pic of the artwork after painting. At the time of painting I probably didn't realise the cultish themes that Lucy was portraying because I earnestly tried making a warm glow of a church interior and the rich colours of renaissance religious paintings! I certainly wasn't trying to make it creepy or unsettling.
Like in Elle's work, the final edit of this artwork had the colours adjusted digitally to enhance the vividness. I really like how the details of pencil line and the full spectrum colours really sing in the this final version of the picture (excuse the pun!).
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the beautiful creative works that Soile, Lucy and Elle did with my generative collage. I never once felt like they ruined the look, in fact I think they made really cool commentaries and edits with it. In lots of ways, I like their works more than I. Their work can be seen and read about below: