It has taken me an age to get to grips with this exercise, and I think the issue has been my assessment of myself as being unable to ‘make art’ There is something about the exercise that is asking me to push my creativity outside my comfort zone, and away from photography into the sort of art which requires one to have an idea and consciously put it together in a way that is coherent. Any painter has to do this for every single piece they make, but for a photographer it seems to require a leap of faith in my abilities which I am not sure I can make.
The exercise cries out for a political subject, but maybe that is just because I went to a lecture a few years ago by Peter Kennard and recently looked at Barbara Kruger’s work. There are many other possibilities too, such as David Hockney’s multiple images referencing how we really look at the world, and multiple exposure work, such as that of Man Ray and El Lissitzky. I found this excellent article explaining the history and different types of work here (Widewalls, 2016)
It is not an exercise where one can simply start taking photographs to see where it will go. The exercise asks for 4-6 images, and so there needs to be a story rather than a single image. There are many variables to consider, such as subject, process, collecting appropriate images, copyright issues, and the practical one of whether to make the results digitally or by scissors and glue.
I am pretty clear about the subject I want to cover, which is the deliberate destruction of the concept of truth which we see happening before our eyes at present, and in particular the role of Donald Trump, President of the USA, in this disintegration. To the casual observer, Trump seems to believe wholeheartedly whatever comes out of his mouth at any particular moment, despite the clear proof that he said (and believed) exactly the opposite last week. A particular instance of that is the changing story in relation to the letter which was supposedly written by on Air Force 1 on date, and which initially Trump denied any knowledge about. As time has gone on, his story has changed again and again, and it now appears that Trump wrote the letter himself. Details as they stand today can be viewed here, but they might have changed again by tomorrow. https://edition.cnn.com/2018/05/20/politics/trump-evolving-public-defense-russia/index.html
Testing out whether the effect of deliberate photomontage works using Photoshop, I produced this image, using a news photo I downloaded. However, I will want to use free stock images for the main event, as I suspect this one might be subject to copyright, and I am not at all clear on the copyright position of altered copyright images.
As you can see, it works. So, potentially I could do a series using this style of montage. However, I have just been reading Sabine Kreibel’s essay ‘Manufacturing Discontent: John Heartfield’s Mass Medium‘ and a very good point is made in it that the physical acts of cutting, tearing, reassembling and ‘suturing together the story’ have a symbolic meaning which is absent from purely digital work, or at least my digital work.
My initial efforts, using Photoshop and current news photos are shown below.
Although they are heading in the right direction, they still seem far too neat, and it is clear to me that a physical intervention is required to create the right sense of increasing collapse. I therefore decided to produce a conceptual piece, using eqipment I have around my study and this was the result.
The demise of truth, 2016-2018
Kreibel, Sabine (2009) ‘Manufacturing Discontent: John Heartfield’s Mass Medium’. In New German Critique, No. 107, Dada and Photomontage across Borders (Summer, 2009), pp. 53-88. Also online at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25609147?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
Kreig, Gregory (2018) The Trump team’s amazing, evolving Russia defense [online] At: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/05/20/politics/trump-evolving-public-defense-russia/index.html (Accessed on 4 June 2018)
Widewalls (2016) Photomontage – The History and Meaning of a Photo Composition. [online] At: https://www.widewalls.ch/photomontage-art/ (Accessed on 4 June 2018).