Sunday, September 18, 2022

Making Collages

 I sometimes imagine that I am an archeologist trying to reconstruct an unknown text from found fragments of a lost or unknown civilization. Since these compositions are all black and white relationships, each composition is like looking at the constant flux of yin and yang. The sense of what is positive and what negative is always shifting back and forth.

I have been using this same black and white collage material more or less the same way for about a decade now. All of it is from a single poster that I designed for collage making and had 500 copies printed. I have close to a lifetime of the material left. Most of them have been 9 x 6 inches. This latest set is 10 x 8 inches and I think I prefer the little bit fatter proportion.

 It seems like an interesting idea to make these collages with the same basic idea and look. The variation is based on the moment they are created. Each moment is different, unique. When I say moment, I am stretching them out to as much time as it takes to make the collage. The collage starts in a certain moment and that moment of conception drives it to its conclusion however long that takes. I am different, my approach is different because I am trying to fit a composition together based on my intuitive reasoning and responses. This makes it a form of meditation or contemplation. Sometimes I do have a feel of what I want to do across a group of several works. Still, I am looking for opportunity, looking for things that strike me as going together, fitting together.

 The process is driven by an idea of chance aesthetics. I usually start anywhere and glue pieces down as I feel the right spot for it. So, I am usually fully committed to the placement as I go along. It is evolutionary, everything builds on the last thing that happened and all future decisions are driven by all the decisions up to that point. Once started, it is driven to its own unique conclusion.

Sometimes I wonder how I will get to the next part of the composition. It sometimes feels like I won’t find the right fragment but, in the end, it comes to a conclusion.

 If I get stuck then I stop and do something else for a while and then come back and finish it up. The few minutes away from the collage lets me let go of the process and then pick it back up with fresh eyes.

Because of this process, failure is not an option, there is only begin, continue, conclude. Since I have done all that I can in the design of the system of construction, whatever result is a success within that set of systematic limitations. Aesthetically I personally might like one over another but even my preference might change over time as I study them over the following years.

 “We should bring our will into harmony with whatever happens, so that nothing happens against our will and nothing that we wish for fails to happen.” — Epictetus, “Discourses,” 2.14.7

 Once a body of collages is completed and documented then they become possible studies for paintings. I think of the collages as scores as in musical scores or event scores or an architectural plan or a recipe. The paintings are performances of these scores. There might be one performance, there might be multiple performances of the original collage in different sizes, different proportions, they might be cropped, they might change colors, or the colors might be reversed or various painting techniques might be experimented with. Each performance is unique even if two instances look nearly the same. I might make a painting of a collage from last week or from a decade ago. It doesn’t matter, they are timeless.

 The progressions of the collages have nothing to do with the progressions of the paintings just like an orchestra might play a symphony from 1722 in the same program with one written last year. Both are unique performances even if the older one has been performed a thousand times over the last 300 years.

 A chef might follow a recipe from ancient Rome and try to match the dish as exactly as possible, or a playful master chef might start with a recipe and use it as only a suggestion. He/she might; change the ingredients, adjust the proportions or the spices, or take it in a completely different direction.

Journal Entry: Saturday, August 6, 2022

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