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Collage - Alchemy of the Quotidian

Thu May 1, 2014, 11:18 PM









Foreword







Please welcome suzymae as our newest guest writer for depthRADIUS. Journalism is the latest turn in Suzy’s communications-dedicated existence, her resume revealing her to be a lifetime arts world gypsy only recently having alighted in Los Angeles where she is involved with not only transmedia artwork, video and collage but also the stand-up comedy scene. Please join me in welcoming suzymae to the deviantART family, the best home for artists displaying Suzy’s spirit of peripatetic creativity, thoughtful human observation and all-in life commitment to self-expression through art.









Collage, Alchemy of the Quotidian







It’s a simple art form, yet it provokes extreme reaction. One either loves it or hates it. Children understand it. What child has not cut out and glued together collages of family members or friends or favorite entertainer role models? Yet when an artist combines objects that evoke more subtle meditations, collage is often dismissed as the lazy man’s art form.






Where’s the technique? The hours? The “value.”




Indeed, collage is often assemblages of roadside detritus. But the power or melancholy of the image then created to be experienced uniquely by each of us can be a thing of wonder, magical. How to appraise this “value?” Quotation fails. Perhaps it’s the purity of this magical artist-viewer exchange that so confounds the assayers. Sometimes junk can be pure gold.










Collage II by psychoticsounds






collage by Lucardo






Old Tales by ebbing-gale








Transforming with Intent


Collage, as a fine art form, was consciously explored in the early 1900’s across Europe and the Americas, inspiring a new wave of contemporary commentary, as artists integrated physical objects from everyday life directly into their art, transforming pieces of mass media into imaginative, opinionated statements on society.








Das Undbild, 1919by Kurt Schwitters




In its purest form, collage is alchemy:  a power that transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way, merging components from multiple sources into an entirely new expression of emotion.




One need not be a technically skilled illustrator or photographer to assemble an effective collage—but to invoke a new reality out of existing components, a sense of storytelling and composition is crucial.


As each observer develops their own unique emotional perspective on the piece, attaching their personal history to the components within, viewing a collage becomes an act of alchemic creation in itself.











“Collage is the noble conquest of the irrational, the coupling of two realities, irreconcilable in appearance, upon a plane which apparently does not suit them.”



Max Ernst










Collage derives its name from the French verb coller, to glue.






It’s a technical description, reducing the practice of collage to its most basic form: attaching things to a surface. Conceptually, collage is controlled serendipity, combining disparate pieces of imagery into one singular experience.


Materials are limited only by imagination: parking passes, fine Japanese papers, cigarette butts, doll arms, dollar bills, seashells, human hair. Anything on earth becomes a medium.










Breaking by KanchanCollage






Collage by foot-foot






Magnolia Warbler by ursulav








Collage through The Ages


Since the invention of the printing press, words and images have been re-appropriated to tell stories and process information.






  • 1600s

    — Commonplace Books

    Information retained by a single person, such as quotes, recipes, poems and laws.

  • 1700s

    — Friendship Albums

    Compendium of signatures and drawings, collected from a variety of individuals.

  • 1800s

    — Victorian Photocollage

    Photographs and drawings cut, colored, & pasted to depict relationships & events

  • 1900s

    — Papiers Colles

    Artworks incorporating mass media objects alongside traditional materials.

  • 2000s

    — Blogs

    Digital compilations of moving & still images, text, and sound.









“In collage you can mix up new flavors and thoughts for people to find.”



KanchanCollage :iconkanchancollage:





“The outsider might see it as collage; I regard it as painting. The paint I use comes with ready-made pictures and ideas in it, and as it doesn't blend, painting with it is like playing a giant game of open-ended three-dimensional Tetris, wherein each piece retains its roots in the material while the growth is angled towards the topic it portrays.”



Zaider :iconzaider:









Stormy Sea by J0nnyL0ve






Self Portrait Collage by danalightbourne






water collage by kirbyrevo








The first deliberate and innovative use of collage in fine art came from Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in the spring of 1912.








Fruit Dish & Glass, 1916by Georges Braque






Pushing the limits of dimension and illusion via Cubism, the two broke 2D barriers with a series of papiers collés. Picasso incorporated an Italian postage stamp in his painting “The Letter.”




Braque used a wallpaper wood grain to conjure café tables in Fruit Dish and Glass.




After these well-known artists initiated the use of everyday objects within traditional paintings, the technically simple concept of collage came to affect the trajectory of contemporary art over the following century.











“Regardless of the medium, whether it is in Eliot or Picasso or a TV thirty-second advertisement, I think collage is the twentieth century's greatest innovation.”



Robert Motherwell










The process of collage is anarchic and constructive at once, a practice with infinite possibilities.






This freedom and power inspired progressive artists to push boundaries, while simultaneously legitimizing pop as culture. Cubists, Surrealists, and other visionaries took on collage as idea, creating assemblages, constructions, readymades, and cut-ups. Neo Dada, Pop Art, and Conceptual Art all sprung out of this radical transformation of what art could be and contain.




As a process to invoke new realities, collage allows any artist to explore immortal nostalgia:  transforming what already exists into a desired reality. Inclusive and quick, open to personalization and multiple mediums, the lack of rules and infinite sources of material challenge all creative individuals to develop their own innovative approach to collage.










295.5 by BLDRDSH






taxi by igorska






like so many by CanaryInTheCathouse









roma surrealismo by fleetofgypsies






Orange Brain Unlimited by bluespectralmonkey






Ruby behind Emerald by Culpeo-Fox









RESCUED FROM LIFE by PancreasSupervisor






Fall in Love by Risata






Red and Wolfby RevolverWinds








“It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.”



Jean-Luc Godard










Questions for the Reader


  1. What if any difference is there between digital collage and photo manipulation? Should they be considered a separate art form from collage, just as collage is from assemblage?
  2. Is effective collage harder or easier to create than a traditionally illustrated image?
  3. What attitudes set collage artists apart from others?  Why might they choose collage over other methods?
  4. When can a collage be perceived as a cop-out?  Is there something less noble about using other’s visuals?
  5. As artists broke the 2D barrier by adding 3D components, how do we explore the fourth dimension with 3D materials? What’s the next conceptual step collage might inspire?
  6. Has collage become the standard of modern media consumption?  How does the fractured multimedia landscape we all experience affect our relationship to collage as an art form?









It’s a simple art form, yet it provokes extreme reaction.  One either loves it or hates it.  Children understand it.  What child has not cut out and glued together collages of family members or friends or favorite entertainer role models?  Yet when an artist combines objects that evoke more subtle meditations, collage is often dismissed as the lazy man’s art form.  Where’s the technique? The hours?  The “value.”     

Writers: suzymae 
Designers: marioluevanos 
Resources: flordeneu


For more articles like this, visit depthRADIUS 
Add a Comment:
 
:iconkanchancollage:
KanchanCollage Featured By Owner Edited Sep 15, 2014   Traditional Artist
Thanks for spreading the news about a medium that is not understood by some,  is not found that frequently as other media, and that is currently experiencing a resurgence and growth period!
Thank you of course for including my work here specifically!
Reply
:iconbluespectralmonkey:
just to show everyone a bit of how i work... heres a video i made while finishing a few pieces before my art show in 2012
www.youtube.com/watch?v=pow7MJ…
Reply
:iconalphabetsoup314:
alphabetsoup314 Featured By Owner May 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
  1. What if any difference is there between digital collage and photo manipulation? Should they be considered a separate art form from collage, just as collage is from assemblage?
    I feel like collage may have lead to photomanip, though I have no facts to back that statement up. As to the difference: I feel as though photomanip generally aims to make everything feel as though all resources live naturally in the same scene, through manipulation of lighting and such; collage, on the other hand, may or may not have that same aim, and may even take advantage of the fact that everything came from different source. Are they distinct? There is overlap I think, so it's a difficult question for me to answer. 

  2. Is effective collage harder or easier to create than a traditionally illustrated image?
    I find the notion that it's easier ridiculous. Saying collage is easier than drawing is like saying photography is easier than drawing; yeah, you don't have to create every line and form from scratch, but you still have to pay attention to composition, colour, lighting, and other technical aspects. Also, I feel like there is overall less control in photography and collage. Just like there are things you can't control in photography (the wait for a butterfly to land in your shot for instance), there are things you can't control in collage (eg: the image being not quite the pose or colour you want). The trick is working around, or working with, those uncontrollable elements to create the effect you want... or even an effect you didn't intend, the kind that's a nice surprise! 

    the TLDR version: I wouldn't say it's harder or easier. Just don't say it's easier. 

  3. What attitudes set collage artists apart from others?  Why might they choose collage over other methods?
    No comment. It's not something I'm heavily involved with. 

  4. When can a collage be perceived as a cop-out?  Is there something less noble about using other’s visuals?
    If you were to copy someone's visuals wholesale, without putting any effort other than cutting stuff out and pasting it everywhere, with no regard to how the piece as a whole looks, then passing it off as 'art' (as opposed to doing it just for fun or personal use), that would be a cop-out. Even worse is if you don't respect the original artist's wishes with regards to their visuals being used (not crediting the provider when they've clearly stated that they want credit for example). As a stocker, I feel quite strongly about the second point. Some stockers also feel very strongly about the first point, and put something to the lines of "Put some effort into your use of my stock" in their terms of use. 

  5. As artists broke the 2D barrier by adding 3D components, how do we explore the fourth dimension with 3D materials? What’s the next conceptual step collage might inspire?
    Fourth dimension?!... you mean time? Or is that a typo? Well, if that isn't a typo, I suppose you could use some sort of material that changes with respect to some variable - changing colour depending viewing angle or temperature for example. Or you could use elements that actually change with time - the easiest would be something like a clock. Adding something like plants that grow and die to change the meaning of the piece would be interesting to see. In fact, I may try just that. 

  6. Has collage become the standard of modern media consumption?  How does the fractured multimedia landscape we all experience affect our relationship to collage as an art form?
    Take a look at Youtube. There's a bajillion compilation-type videos out there. Pinterest thrives due to the concept. I think it's 'less multimedia landscape affecting collage' and more the other way around. 
Reply
:iconbluespectralmonkey:
bluespectralmonkey Featured By Owner May 11, 2014
THANKS for choosing one of my works for inclusion in this great article. really gets the mind going. it feels great to be noticed after so many years of hard core mental devotion and time!
bsm
Reply
:iconbluespectralmonkey:
bluespectralmonkey Featured By Owner May 11, 2014
wow thanks for including my work!!!!
bsm
lots more new work on the way!!!
 
Reply
:iconbloodart-gallery:
BloodArt-Gallery Featured By Owner May 8, 2014   General Artist

1.Guess must first build a club card as to live this understanding.
2.as the science, looking for takes it the work from production.
3.Think of it already to have all socia expressions available on it.
4.Piracy sailors the atoms of water at the tap river.
5.Hologram and virtual reality is to be with the art than only visualize.
6.if not the very pretty girl, chaos pollute what ever more collage many more to be pretty each of nothing. what else and else to picture it in images.
Reply
:iconcomplexvariable:
ComplexVariable Featured By Owner May 7, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
*Steeples his fingers together*

Yes, I shall respondeth to these questions.

[What if any difference is there between digital collage and photo manipulation? Should they be considered a separate art form from collage, just as collage is from assemblage?] - - - Any differences are mere technicalities. Photo-manipulation, Collage, Assemblage, "Found Art", and Photography (to name a few) all rely on the same premise: the "fundamental unit" of their artistic vocabulary is far "larger" than what one would find in, say, an oil painting, or any other "through-created" artwork.  

By "fundamental unit", I mean the smallest physical component to which the artwork can be reduced to. In painting, drawing, sculpture, and other more "formal" varieties of art, the fundamental units are the material properties of the ingredients used (the colors and shades used, the type of coloring utensil—pens, pastels, crayons, etc.—the type of clay, etc.) and forms those materials are given (shapes, lines, etc.) These elements are very "elementary" and "abstract", in the sense that they need to have a great deal of workmanship (a.k.a., "technique", "artistry") applied to them in order to convey ideas or information. Aside from tricky psychological and cultural factors (such as associations of different colors with certain emotions, objects, or temperatures), in it of themselves, these elementary units do not convey much information. Rather, the information conveyed is an emergent phenomenon—a creation whose totality is necessarily greater than the sum of its parts.

The fundamental units of most collages and related art-forms, however, contrast with the aforementioned genres by containing a great deal of information right from the get-go. Consider the piece "Rescued From Life", by PancreasSupervisor—one of the nine works featured in this journal entry. This is what I would consider to be a prime example of traditional collage. The fundamental units of the work are the individual images contained therein; what those images represent (i.e., the emergent meaning which those images possess as a result of being made of more elementary units such as color and form) are what they are being used for. The technique present in 
"Rescued From Life" comes from the way that the images are arranged on the canvas.

Photo-manipulation adds another level of technique to traditional collage. With the magic of technology, the individual images used can be altered in substantial ways—reshaped, recolored, blended, and so on. However, in most cases, the end result is the same: the function of the individual images are the emergent qualities present in them.

Now, things get more tricky with pieces like "Fall In Love", by Risata—which, I must say (aside from the pun xD) is my favorite among the works featured in this article. Whereas "Rescued From Life" uses the identities of the individual images as its fundamental unit, "Fall In Love" relies on more abstract qualities: color and form. The fact that the collage consists of leaves is relevant only for the punny title (the "conceptual" element of the work, one might say); as far as the image is concerned, the color and shape of the leaves is what matters. I would classify "Fall In Love" as being somewhere in between mosaic and painting; it is "nobler" than some of the other works featured here because its emergent meaning stems from the abstract qualities of the images used, as opposed to their concrete identity as leaves.

As a technicality, I group photography with collage because it relies on the pre-made images being photographed; the technique there lies in finding and setting up the shot, and then getting it just right. 

[Is effective collage harder or easier to create than a traditionally illustrated image?] - - - As stated, this question has no answer. "Effectiveness" of art has nothing to with ease of creation. Prodigies produce art with every breath they take, yet that is no guarantee that the work will be considered "effective" by its intended audience. Likewise, an artist can put in a great deal of work into their creation, only for it to garner a lukewarm reception. For instance, although it appears that bluespectralmonkey put quite a lot of effort into "Orange Brain Unlimited", the piece is not one that I would consider to be effective; naturally, others will have different responses to the work. Some will find it effective, others won't. 

[What attitudes set collage artists apart from others?  Why might they choose collage over other methods?] - - - This is an empty question. It is highly presumptuous to assume that a person must have a certain type of "attitude" if they are the creator of collage. The second part of the question is also presumptuous, though less so than the first. If you want to know why someone choses to do X instead of Y, ask THEM. 

[When can a collage be perceived as a cop-out?  Is there something less noble about using other’s visuals?] - - - I have very stringent opinions when it comes to the "nobility" of art. From my perspective, traditional collage on its own is a cop-out to one extent or another. I have always been of the opinion that using someone else's work in your own art is something cheap, unclean, and inauthentic, especially in comparison to all those works that have been created all the way up from the very fundaments of visual art: color and form. I consider the skill of rendering an image clearly with life and style to be a more praiseworthy skill than merely contriving a concept. Works like "Fall In Love" have a inherently greater merit to me than works like "Rescued From Life" because they exhibit this quality of "creation", as opposed to mere arrangement. The ultimate skill, of course, is when technique and concept are present in equal ripeness in a work—one that lies atop the twin apexes of aesthetics and conceptual meaning.

I would be lying if I did not point out the fact that I, myself, have always desired the ability to faithfully render in image what I see and imagine within my mind; my hands, unfortunately, are not cut out for it.  I am of the opinion that if you have skill as a creative person, it is your prerogative to utilize that skill to the fullest, in whatever form it can take.

Whether it's using another's visuals, or creating visuals too detached from reality to be understood as anything at all, it all boils down to the same issue of concerned, and conscientious communication. To use another's image shows a potential lack of concern for one's art: if you have the skill to make the image yourself, you should do so. Doing anything less to shame and squander your precious skills. Likewise, creating imagery beyond representation and comprehension is not conscientious of the artist, and is yet another waste of talent and artistry. Basically, my attitude is: "have pride and passion toward your work"; create the most wonderful, beautiful, amazing,  you can, simply because you can. Anything less makes me sad.  

[As artists broke the 2D barrier by adding 3D components, how do we explore the fourth dimension with 3D materials? What’s the next conceptual step collage might inspire?] - - - Who cares, and how is this at all relevant? (Seriously: think about it!) Few things aggravate me more than the idea that creativity MUST "push the envelope" somehow; that mere novelty is of value, in it of itself. Truth is: it isn't. Without substance, novelty is ephemeral and meaningless. Indeed, novelty is something that is INEVITABLY lost with the passage of time. Substance, however (so long as it can be perceived), is eternal. Envelope-pushing will happen on its own when artists are ripe for taking the new step forward. Desiring to find new ways to explore the "fourth dimension" (I'm not even going to get started with the scientific / mathematical issues regarding what "dimensions" actually are) is an ultimately fruitless endeavor, seeing as, once those new methods are found, people will pretty soon start asking "how do we explore the FIFTH dimension?", then the sixth, and the seventh, and so on. As I said, envelope-pushing will happen on its own. Trying to rush to it for its own sake is like wolfing down a delicious meal for the sake of getting to dessert more quickly. In doing so, you have spoiled your chance to fully savor and digest the main course.


[Has collage become the standard of modern media consumption? How does the fractured multimedia landscape we all experience affect our relationship to collage as an art form?
] - - - Where in the world did these two non-sequiters come from? xD  

We can spend all day debating which styles and approaches to art best reflect our experience of contemporary life and modernity—and accomplish NOTHING—OR, we can go out and create works that reflect our contemporary condition. In making said works, we will collectively create the answer to that question. 

There; I've said my points on the matter. ;)
Reply
:iconzaider:
Zaider Featured By Owner May 7, 2014  Professional
On number 5. (got this handed to me by a teacher, shit's valid. ^^)
Pertaining to painting, but can just as easy be applied to any work of art:
www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/p…
Reply
:iconcevelr:
Cevelr Featured By Owner May 7, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is a well-written article, I learned a lot from it.
It gave me a lot of things to ponder.
I like the concept of Collages being Alchemy!
Reply
:iconpica-ae:
pica-ae Featured By Owner May 7, 2014  Professional Interface Designer
Digital Collage strikes me closer to Digital Mixed Media, than to Digital Photomanipulation. Using maybe drawings/paintings, vectors, 3D and photos, while Photo Manipulations stay in the boundaries of photos and maaaaybe light painting. It may even just be Digital Mixed Media. 
Reply
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