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CRITICAL MEANING ON COLLAGE AS A CRITICAL FORM OF CREATIVE EXPRESSION BY FABIENNE ELIE A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Prof. Aron Edidin Sarasota, Florida January, 2013
ii Dedications To all the brilliant women who have supported me, Carmen, Analeah and Madhuri. As well as Aron, the first true mentor to show me infinite patience.
iii Table of Contents I. Introduction: Collage in the 20th Century 2 II. A Theory of Art and A Theory of Consumer Society 7 R.G. Collingwood, Principles of Art . . 7 Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects and The Consumer Society. . 15 III. Artists 23 IV. Artistic Exploration of the Collage Process 52 V. Conclusion 57 VI. Bibliography 59 VII. Images 61
iv Critical Meaning ON COLLAGE AS A CRITICAL FORM OF CREATIVE EXPRESSION Fabienne Elie New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT Collage in the contemporary art world is often relegated to an experiment in craft rather than fine art. With the advent of digital imaging and its consequent effect on the ubiquity of the Image,the potential for the renaissance of Collage as a critical avantgarde form of creative expression has emerged. This project sought to investigate through a historical as well as contemporary lens, the features of Collage that gave it critical dimension. Using prominent works by the theorist R.G. Collingwood, a formal notion of aesthetic expression that took into account both the artist and the spectator is establish. Beginning from this notion, prominent works from the cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard were interpreted as theoretical analogies for the content of the aesthetic expression observed in collage. The investigation took the form of three major parts: a theoretical survey of R.G. Collingwoods' Principles of Art and Jean Baudrillard's The System of Objects and The Consumer Society a close analysis of selected works from three established Collagists, and an independent artistic exploration of the collage process resulting in a series of original collages. Through the analysis, the political potentials inherent in the aesthetic
v expression of collage were discovered as predominant features to the critical dimension of the aesthetic expression. The critical expression of collage carried political implications by means of the implicit vicarious experience created between the spectator and the artist. Aron Edidin Division of the Humanit
I. Introduction: Collage in the 20 th Century There is a thread in aesthetic theory of attempting to arrive at a definition of Art: What is and is not Art. Many theorists have proposed solutions to clarify the question; however those pr oposals are limited by a focus on the pieces' function, be it expressive or practical. In this thesis I have chosen to re evaluate the marginalized art medium of collage and attempt to reclaim its status through the investigation of its potential for criti cal expression. In doing so I intend to assert the renewal of collage as a culturally necessary expressive art medium, despite its relegation to a pass intellectual experiment of the avant garde. 1 The investigation involves in part the creation of a serie s of original collages in order to gain insight into the creation as well as reception of collage. A powerful feature of collage, apparent even when in its earlier Parisian stages it was known as papiers colls is its evocation of the struggle between hig h and low art. 2 While this sruggle may have bcome conventionalized in the contemporary art world, in the environment of a competitive Parisian avant garde scene, tensions arose between the technical realm of art construction and the philosophical deliberat ions on artistic meaning. The physical technique of collage was first introduced by Picasso and Braque around World War I and gathered popularity among the avant garde s in the following years despite significant criticism and hesitation from established fi gures in the dominant fine arts world. The use of base printed and found materials in Collage gave reason for its exclusion from serious consideration as part of the fine arts (Taylor, 4.) It is important 1 "From Advertising to the Avant Garde: Rethinking the Invention of Collage" David Banash p. 11 2 Collage historically has been a symbolic reminder of the questioning o f the boundaries between high and low art.
2 when viewing the significant potential of collage t o begin with its material. Initially collage began as the pasting of scraps that were found outside of the artist's studio. Because of its origins in printed material many have considered collage as a pole of modern sensibility, particularly for its focus on the modern city as it was being transformed by capitalism and industrialization (Taylor, 2.) It communicated directly to the modern city through the city's neglected objects. The attribution of modernity to collage overlooks a less politicized and subtl er anthropological perspective. Collage constituted of displaced, found materials allows the conceptual allegories to take shape which suggested something disconcerting of the unwanted, discarded and extraneous, which in turn reflected something critical a bout modernity. This obsession with modernity exposes the common influence for most modern avant garde artists of this time: the reality that the modern age involved an inevitable revaluation life in relation to objects. For the avant gardes, the critical seed was planted; modern life was unrecognizable without its objects. With the rise of industry, the burden of preserving a sense of identity independent of material manufactured objects threatened the modern artist. Struggling to find a meaning behind cre ation that went beyond the construction of another consumable product. Despite the apparent connections to modern life under capitalism, collage struggled for anything other than a marginal status in the fine arts. Its experimental nature, comparatively di minutive proportions and rapid execution limited the reception of collage to a status still subordinate to painting and sculpture. Its value was maintained in so far as it was qualified as a thought experiment for a larger painted or sculpted work.
3 The fi rst modernist collage did not present itself until the Analytic Cubist stage in 1912; Braque and Picasso are credited with being the first to experiment with the incorporation of news clippings and text in their drawings and collage (Taylor, 11.) Both arti sts maintained a competitive yet open and mutually critical creative relationship, conferring with each other on technique and the relative completion of new pieces. Both maintained a simultaneous devotion to high art' and everyday reality. Fascinated by the surfaces that made up their world, it was only a matter of time before collage was indeed an experiment that led to the inclusion of text and texture in Picasso and Braque's work. This newly applied technique along with other innovations in the handlin g of surface did more for the spatial reasoning of depth than Braque and Picasso could have predicted. The improvised structure of collage allowed recognizable forms and letters to take on symbolic meaning; they functioned as emblems that represented featu res of reality while not necessary being a practice in pure mimesis (Taylor 14). In his text on the status of collage in modern art, Brandon Taylor suggests that, "the very distinction between flat and volumetric was no longer absolute, that through a proc ess of unprecedented spatial and semantic complexity, something deeply unsettling was happening to art" (Taylor, 9.) This vague unsettling notion Taylor refers to is the growing awareness of a blurred division not only between two dimensional and three dim ensional art, but between high and low art as a result of the nature of collage. The complicating notion of the image came with a growing awareness of the powerful implications of signs derived from the scraps of modernity' complicated these divisions. It appears as though in the
4 early stages of collage, the controversial transformative potential was a herald of the philosophical issues relating to the semiotics of the sign and the life of the image. It is this unsettling notion of collage that has drawn t he focus of my research. In this essay I have chosen to investigate the historical relevance of collage through the pieces of three artists from distinct stages of collage history. In the coming chapter I will introduce a introduce a discussion of R.G. Co llingwood and Jean Baudrillard, two theorists whose work can further our understanding of collage as a critical form of Art.. Following that discussion I will transition to a discussion of works from the artists Paul Citron, Eduardo Paolozzi, and John Ste zaker that will focus on primarily direct visual observations of selected works, followed by a discussion of the works in light of the theoretical approaches of Collingwood and Baudrillard. In a 5 th chapter I will discuss the implications and insights gain ed form the experience of creating several original collages of my own. In particular, I will discuss the successes and failures, as well as the shifts in my thinking and process as they paralleled the conclusions of the theoretical and historical research Finally I will make use of all that I've presented in order to demonstrate the critical capacity of college in its creative expression. I will defend the belief that collage was and remains a relevant avant garde tool for expressing critical thought th rough a visual form of discourse that takes on a political dimension for the artist and spectator. Post World War II global society was still recoiling from the horrors of the Holocaust and a fear of Radical thinking lingered. In the years that followed, a radical left developed in opposition to the conservative campaigns of nation powers overseas. At this
5 time radical art became more prevalent in Britain around the 1950s and 60s. Among the trends, Pop Art called attention to the gross inequalities of weal th in Western Europe and overseas. Late capitalism gave way to the rise of consumer culture in nations of renewed wealth and stability. As a critical counterpoint to the seeming vanity of the Pop Art movement a small group of colleagues calling themselves the Independent Group, responded directly to the affects and observations the now Late capitalist Europe as well as the United States. They took as a special interest an appropriation of popular film and culture images that continued from the Pop Art era into the 1970s, which appeared prominent in a new wave of advertising that accompanied the rise of the consumer society by the latter part of the 20 th century. British conceptual art was prominent at this time, with artists like John Stezaker being one of the leading contributors. Conceptual art at this time sought to challenge the commodity nature of physi cal art objects. Conceptual art while seeming self enclosed, pointed to the dead ended nature of the modernist programme (Walker 34.)
6 II. A Theory of Art and A Theory of Consumer Society Collingwood and Baudrillard: An Introduction Using two radically different theoretical applications, in this section I will elaborate on the tools I will use to investigate the expressive potential of collage, as well as the critical depth of that expression. Through analysis of this critical expression, I will relate theoretical discursive and artistic treatments of cultural themes. I have chosen to concentrate on the theoretical works of Jean Baudrillard, as presented by David Kellner, and R. G. Collingwood in order to illustrate a thoughtful reflective dialogue between art objects and society. Employing these theorists, I will develop an understanding of an ongoing historical dialogue where art provides the opportunit y for critical discourse on contemporary society. This will require considering artwork as a category objects, but more importantly as an activity that enables the communication of a shared creative experience. It is the critical potential of the shared cr eative experience of collage that is the focus of the investigation. In the works of R.G. Collingwood we are introduced to an aesthetic theory that focuses on the experience of aesthetic expression. He believes a theory of the phenomenon of aesthetic expre ssion is an essential part of the life of the mind, not just a special activity for poets. For this essay I will focus on the ideas expressed in Collingwood's primary work in aesthetics, The Principles of Art (1983). In this work, his primary concern was w ith the phenomenon of aesthetic expression, which he believed to be the fundamental character of any work of art. Art
7 Proper necessarily involved a pure expression of an initially inchoate emotion. Collingwood's argument is organized in three main points, each building upon the previous idea: a notion of Pseudo Art v. Art Proper the elements of Imaginative Experience and role of Art Proper in society. In this section I will introduce an outline of Collingwood's Principles of Art and demonstrate the ways in which his principles redefine the art object. For Collingwood, a redefinition of Art Proper requires distinction from Pseudo Art where Pseudo Art may resemble art proper but is limited to a mastery and manipulation of craft for amusement and what he ca lls Magic. He argues that a technical mastery of craft necessitates a preconceived product that is contrary to his notion of Art Proper, which does not seek to produce a particular state of mind in its spectator. It is important to note that from the start Collingwood understands poetry and visual art to be related in this discussion suggesting their equal standing in the discussion of Art. Using the examples of written poetry and visual art, he suggests that while a work of Art Proper may contain elements of craft, magic and amusement, some works of art do not and that lack does not detract from their status as Art Proper For those works that do contain elements of craft, that presence of craft similarly does not contribute to its status as Art Proper Col lingwood uses the word "Magic" to mean the effect of eliciting a particular feeling or provoking specific response in the spectator. However, the ability of an artwork to induce or provoke a particular response or emotion, as religious art was intended to do, is inconsequential to the works status as Art Proper The mastery of provoking response is simply what Collingwood refers to as "Magic". He goes so far as
8 to distinguish between Magic and Amusement; both are separate from Art Proper but similar in thei r craft. Where Magic Art sets out to induce a response or reaction, Amusement Art is created with the intention to stimulate without any response or reaction. Emotions are charged and then discharged without action in the case of amusement art. He uses t he example of fiction which charges a spectator with emotion by make believe' means without the intention of provoking a particular function of those emotions. 3 If Art Proper does not achieve aesthetic expression by a practice of craft in magic or amuseme nt, then what remains? For Collingwood the guiding principle in understanding what is Art Proper lies in the ability to achieve aesthetic expression of emotion. He narrates how when a person expresses an emotion he is: Conscious of a perturbation or excit ement which he feels going on within him, but of whose nature he is ignorant. While in this state, all he can say about his emotion is: I feel I don't know what I feel.' From this helpless and oppressed condition he extricates himself by doing something, which we call expressing himself. This is an activity, which has something to do, with the thing we call language: he expresses himself by speaking. It also has something do with consciousness: the emotion expressed is an emotion whose nature the person w ho feels it is no longer unconscious. It also has something to do with the way in which he feels the emotion. As unexpressed, he feels it in what we called a helpless and oppressed way; as expressed. He feels in a way from which this sense of oppression ha s vanished. His mind is somehow lightened and eased(109 10). From this excerpt three salient points emerge: (1) To express is to become conscious of an emotion. (2) The expression is a feature of the utterance itself (3) To express results in an achieveme nt of clarity that does not discharge the emotion. 3 Collingwood uses the example of religious art that might serve to prompt practice and a reminder to conduct oneself piously.
9 The artistic process by which expression is embodied by an artwork is necessarily distinguished from any kind of technical craft used to express preconceived emotion through an object. Rather the process involves an imaginative act that Collingwood calls creation In his terms, "to create something is to make it non technically, but consciously and voluntarily" (128), and hence intentionally: The creator need not be acting in order to achieve any ulterior end; he need not be following a preconceived plan; and he is certainly not transforming anything that can be properly be called a raw material' (129). Using the example of making a tune, he asserts that there are two products of this act. There is the tu ne itself, which may exist as an imaginary thing in the mind of the musician, and the tune that is heard, which is created. The act of creating the imaginary tune is an act of imaginative creation an act that applies to the making of poetry and visual art as much as it does to music. The key element in Collingwood's notion of imaginative creation involves the imaginary object. The imaginary object may exist in the mind of the creator and be communicated in that bodily work produced in the act of imaginativ e creation In principle, the total imaginative experience that constitutes the proper work of art must be conceived as only contingently related to the external work of art, which Collingwood refers to as the bodily work. (Stanford) As a result, the total imaginative experience is largely related to consciousness rather than bodily works. Within this domain, expression requires a delicate yet essential distinction between thinking and feeling. The objects of each, respectively, are thoughts and sensa'. 4 W hile thoughts can be true or false, justified or not, sensa have no such duality: they are felt or not felt, but cannot contradict each other. An interesting feature to 4 : sensa' is Collingwood's name for all the data of the senses of touch, smell, sigh t, and so on. (Stanford)
10 sensa', according to Collingwood, is that probably all sensa have an emotional charge '. Thus for example, every color carries with it a certain emotional quality. Loosely put, a charge is something like a disposition or tendency to be experienced a certain way, under certain circumstances. Collingwood notes that children or artists are mor e likely to experience sensa, where educated adult Europeans tend to have rather sterilized' experience. (#) Sensa are understood as observable phenomena, and therefore fleeting. It is the act of conscious attention that generates ideas corresponding to t he sensa. Sensa alone, sense data, or impressions, are never sufficient for consciousness, which is why ideas are generated in relation to sensa and are themselves what remains capable of being retained and recalled by consciousness. What results is a seco nd degree relation to the pure and fleeting sensa in the form of imagination that can be retained. Therefore, according to Collingwood, Imagination is feeling (sensa) transformed by consciousness into an idea which can be retained. Imaginative creation, th en, necessarily requires the transformation of sensa by consciousness into an idea that can be communicated Integral to his imaginative theory of expression is Collingwood's theory of expressive language, which he regards In its original or native state, [it] is imaginative or expressive It is an imaginative activity whose function is to express emotion' (225). His notion of language is necessarily metaphorical and not a reference to a semiological notion of language as system of signs. His broad notion of language helps to account for the similarities he found between discursive and artistic communications. Though Collingwood concedes that sensa may be expressed without conscious imagination, as with cringing or flinching, conscious ideas correspond to emotions of consciousness'
11 that are exclusively expressed using language, taking language' in a very broad sense. In his words: A cry from a child, for example, may be either psychic or imaginative, depending whether it is involuntary or voluntary. If it is voluntary, it is the work of the conscious imagination, and thus in the most rudimentary sense linguistic. Though seemingly a tenuous leap, what Collingwood deems linguistic, in the sense of expression, is the relation of consciousness to self consci ousness, which he believes is implied in the imaginative expressive act of a voluntary cry. "[Individuals] construct a new set of relations between themselves, arising out of their consciousness of themselves and one another; these are linguistic relation s" (248). An expressive act between a speaker and a listener is used to illustrate the linguistic relation of individuals in the instance of expression: The hearer, therefore, conscious that he is being addressed by another person like himself takes wh at he hears exactly as if it were speech of his own: he speaks to himself with the words that he hears addressed to him, and thus constructs in himself the idea which those words express. At the same time, being conscious of the speaker as a person other t han himself, he attributes that idea to this other person. Understanding what some one says to you is thus attributing to him the idea that his words arouse in yourself; and this implies treating them as words of your own. (250). Thus, to understand anothe r person's emotion is precisely to adopt his expressive language as one's own, imaginatively experiencing the ideas as if they were one's own. He goes on to assert that language is expressive of emotion even in its scientific use. In this way, all mental a ctivity has some emotional character derived from the expressive emotion of the language that it necessarily employs. In the context of his overall theory of art, Collingwood finds his conclusion in his construction of imaginative expression as the underl ying linguistic preoccupation in both
12 intellectual and artistic activity. Deeming this the essential character of every work of art, regardless of any supplemental use of craft, he set out to outline the unexplored expressive dimension of a mental act by d emonstrating its dependency on expressive language. In his theory language and art become interchangeable, as they are both expressive acts that communicate conscious emotions not apparent to the individual prior to the instance of expression. He consider s the relation of art to artists, and the relation between the artist and the community as an essentially imaginative expressive act, where every utterance and gesture establishes a relation. However, if every utterance and every gesture, in so far as it is expressive is a work of art, then life is full of artworks' that are mostly shallow and unworthy of comment. Collingwood responds to this speculation: There are times when consciousness settles on something, such that the mental activity does approach the character of art, in the proper sense of the word. Sitting in a park, for example, we might dwell on the look of an oak tree, or suddenly think of an original stanza of poetry, or a snatch of melody." (Stanford) These are instances of imaginative exp ression where the experience may go unrecorded. The artist' in this instance is one who experiences these imaginative things more deeply and subsequently mastered the impetus and the art of conceptualizing these experiences through the creation of a bodil y work, elevating them from shallowness. The act of creation then, for the artist, constitutes a critical component to the total imaginative experience where the imaginative object is communicated through a bodily object. That object is indispensible to the experience since the experience develops itself and defines itself in [the artist's] mind' as he or she creates a bodily work. This is the total imaginative experience which in turn is the element of the artwork that constructs a
13 linguistic relation with the community of spectators. The spectator is invited to recreate the imaginative experience via the experience of the bodily object that attempts to communicate the imaginative object. We must note that, due to the limitations on the spectator's expe rience, the spectator does not arrive at the stage of total imaginative experience. Though the artist and spectator share the experience of the inchoate emotion clarified by the expression in the bodily work, the spectatorss experience is limited. If an ar tist transforms the inchoate emotion into a clarified emotion by engaging in the creation of the bodily work, then by comparison spectator's experience is necessarily incomplete. To the extent that he or she does not participate in the creation of a bodily work, in addition to the imaginative creation of the imaginative object in the mind, the spectator does not have the same experience as the artist. For the spectator, the clarified emotion remains relatively less defined than for the artist. For this reas on, Collingwood concedes that an artwork is endlessly interpretable and that there is no such thing as the' meaning of a work. Yet while there is no ultimate meaning, a spectator may be said to understand a work just insofar as his or her imaginative expe rience is similar to that had by the artist in creating it. Thus Collingwood considers the spectator's role as a collaborative one, through which a work of art may be deemed a failure if the imaginative expression is not mutually held by the artist and the spectator. Collingwood proposes the rhetorical example: The child learning his mother tongue, as we have seen, learns simultaneously to be a speaker and to be a listener; he listens to others speaking, and speaks to others listening. It is the same with a rtists. They become poets or painters or musicians not by some process of development from within, as they grow beards; but by living in a society where these languages are concurrent. Like other speakers, they speak to those who understand. (317)
14 This ide a might also be demonstrated by the example of the artist who freely borrows from what has already been achieved. There is potential to see within a work of art an ongoing conversation or communication amongst the artists themselves as well as between futu re artists and society. Collingwood's foundational theory promotes the concept that a visual work of art communicates with the same expressive language as any text or utterance created under similar circumstances, under the total imaginative experience. BAUDRILLARD: Coded Expression in Everyday Life In contrast to Collingwood's theory of art, Baudrillard's theory, as presented by Douglas Kellner in the book Jean Baudrillard: From Marxism to Postmodernism and Beyond offers an analysis that introduces an opportunity to apply theory to art in an analogical way. Where Collingwood offers a theory of how Art expresses, Baudrillard offers a critical cultural theory, which I propose offers the content of what might be aesthetically expressed by a work of art. Be ginning with an understanding of how art can communicate, as Collingwood provided, we arrive at the question: What can art communicate? When considering the prominent collage works of the 20 th century, Baudrillard's earliest, works as presented by Kellner, highlights culturally relevant issues for artists working throughout that time. A cultural theorist from as early as the mid 20 th century, Baudrillard is regarded for his Post Marxist Post modernist critique of social modes in the late capitalist era. H e and his French contemporaries Deleuze, Derrida and Foucault were closely identified as a major part of the Post structuralist Movement in critical theory. Having reviewed works
15 from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels during his teaching years, he understood the shortcomings of a theory that neglected the social aspects of commodified living. By the 1970s, Baudrillard began to expand on the traditional Marxist analyses in his own publications. For the purposes of applying Baudrillard's Post Marxist critique, I will focus on his earlier publications The System of Objects and The Consumer Society as expounded by Kellner. Baudrillard's relation to Collage can be understood through applying his revision of the traditional Marxist critique. In his earlier text The System of Objects Baudrillard describes the system that he believes makes up the basic structure of the consumer society' at the time. At the time of its publication, French intellectual society saw the rise in importance of culture in late capitalist Europe. There was a glaring neglect of its importance as a superstructure relevant to traditional academic domains such as history, politics and economics (Kellner 7). There were, however, a number of German Marxists like Walter Benjamin and the Frankfurt School, who similarly challenged the neglect of culture and the social in the academia of late capitalism. After World War II, many nations experienced a sudden emergence of a consumer society whose rise in some nations was only temporarily hindered by ec onomic depression. The dramatic emergence', as Kellner puts it, of a post war consumer society raised questions as to the role of culture in the reproduction of capitalist societies. Mass media and mass productive forces gained a new conceptual dimension in so far as they were understood as tools for managing and reproducing culture.
16 In his first book, The System of Objects Baudrillard presents a figurative interpretation of traditional versus modern modes of behavior and values that dictate the social. He characterizes the shift from traditional to modern as a shift towards organized abstraction. For Baudrillard, the traditional era is characterized by a decorative tendency and an inclination for personalization. What he finds in the modern age is a conc ern for streamlined homogeneity achieved through an abstracted and simplified aesthetic 5 In the dichotomy, he further equates abstraction to rationalization by asserting that the abstraction is organized by a code and therefore decipherable and rational ( and global), however ultimately the code is arbitrary and thus remains abstract. Characterizing the modern era, Baudrillard describes the subject's relation to, use of and particularly domination by the system of objects and signs. The strength of the subj ect's relation to a dominating system lay in his or her submission to the objects of daily life and their ability to communicate status or a desire for status. As the subject increasingly allows objects to overwhelm and overpower any alternative modes of c ommunicating desire for status or differentiation, the subject submits to the system of objects. While his first book focused on understanding his proposed System of Objects that provokes consumption by structuring the needs, fantasies, behavior and theref ore, perception and thought, Baudrillard's second book, The Consumer Society, focuses on comprehending the dynamics of individual consumption in neo capitalist global society. In this book Baudrillard analyses late capitalism as a re articulation of the t raditional early capitalism dynamic. He suggest that the exploitation and alienation a worker experiences from his labor in early capitalism is analogous to the exploitation and 5 Recall the historical example of the Bauhaus in the 1920s, an institution that prioritized a simplicity of form and function.
17 alienation of the consumer by the system of objects in late capitalism; where one generation was an agrarian class forced into an industrial working class, late capitalism is a generation of laborers transitioned into the consumer class. During the 19 th and early 20 th century, capitalism focused its energies on developing a system o f mass production. Beginning in the 1920s the issue of mass consumption and management of consumer demand dominated. The rise of the consumer class historically can be scene as the herald of modernity and the defining feature of the contemporary situation which artists and theorists concerned with the issued of modernity sought to express. Traditional Marxists tended to separate culture from politics and economics. Their critiques of the political economy primarily focused on outlining the value of commodi ties into two dominant kinds of value: exchange value and use value. Exchange value of a commodity referred to the potential with which the commodity might be traded in the market. It is a measure of value in relation to the costs at which other commoditie s can be attained. Often confused with price it is not in a pure sense a measure of monetary value, since exchange value exists in monetary as well as barter based economies. However price is the simplest manifestation of exchange value that can be observ ed in currency based economies. Use value of a commodity, also known as utility refers to the desirability of a commodity in a particular context. However, utility in this case is not based on a purely instrumental desire; it may also refer to the direct want satisfying potential or simply entertainment value and is a value that theoretically exists for the owner even before exchange value is considered. Use may refer to the value of the object that causes the possessor to resist or reconsider an exchange or trade. It is apparent that the two values are very closely related and might typically have some degree of
18 interdependence depending on the commodity or service. In his revision Baudrillard focuses on asserting what Marx's paradigm ignored; an addition al category for assessing the value of a commodity that he terms the Sign Value The significance of adding another aspect to commodity value is in acknowledging the social dimensions of industry and commodification in so far as they use signals to influen ce human needs and desires, and ultimately, consumption. Though Marx acknowledges the reality of alienation from one's labor in a capitalist system where labor is sold, it fails to account for a social dimension of alienation that involves a form of labor Baudrillard calls social labor The labor is derived from the work and study that goes into understanding and manipulating signals in order to display and communicate status or a desire for differentiation. However the need to constantly reintegrate and r eproduce through social labor comes with the risk of alienation from that very labor. The risk of alienation grows as the motivations for understanding and manipulating signals becomes obscured by the growing abstraction of semiotic relationship between ob jects and what they signify. Based on this initial concept, Baudrillard's work suggested a structure through which the objects (of mass media and mass productive forces) dominate and ultimately organize social life. For many theorists, the reproduction of this structure in individual thought and behavior became the defining character of late versus early capitalism. Baudrillard had a focused concern with describing and attempting to understand Modernity through its coded objects. He explains the ways in wh ich consumption dominates social life and in effect restricts the agency of the subject to choose how and what to consume. The most salient aspect of this domination is the neglected sign value that Marx overlooked. The sign value of a commodity emphasizes the value of the object
19 as a displayed symbol. This value is unrestrained by the same commodity's use or exchange value and is therefore an independent marker of value that also dictates consumer habits. The system can be understood as an underlying orga nizing framework directing the interactions between objects, which, in turn, dominate social interactions. Individuals participate in the system via the objects they consume. However, for Baudrillard, participation does not end with consumption. Individual s employ objects, engaging the system of meanings, in order to communicate to themselves and one another. Displayed objects have the ability to communicate social prestige and function as indicators of hierarchy; by these means, objects help to organize so cial behavior: Just as the wolf child becomes a wolf by living among them, so we are ourselves becoming functional objects. We are living in the period of objects: that is, we live by their rhythm, according to their incessant succession. Today, it is we w ho are observing their birth, fulfillment and death; whereas in all previous civilizations, it was the object, the instrument and perennial movement that survived the generations of men (Baudrillard 1969, 44). Consumption for Baudrillard is an infinite soc ial activity, where the individual behavior is seeking to satisfy a desire for social differentiation. This perceived need in actuality is not a need for a particular object but a need for difference as an indicator of meaning: Rather than a consumer be se duced into purchase of a single commodity, which Baudrillard equates with the primitive notion of mana, he or she is induced to buy into an entire system of objects and needs through which one differentiates oneself socially, yet integrates oneself into th e consumer society (Kellner 15) Dangers arise when objects begin to overwhelm and dominate the social lives of individuals, finding their way into organizing morality, ideology, communication, and
20 structures of exchange. Many theorists in the early 1970s n oted the loss of agency amongst individuals in the consumer society. Kellner's critique of Baudrillard's account of consumer society exposes the lack of recognition of revolutionary potential or radical agency in the consumer class. However, he notes Baudr illard's attempts to address this lack where he alludes to "Brutal eruptions and sudden disaggregation in a fashion as unforeseeable but certain as in May 1968 [which] will come to shatter this white mass [of consumption]" (SC 316). The sole radical act that Baudrillard envisions is a complete refusal to consume or participate in the reproduction of the consumer society, because in a society where everything can be bought and sold, alienation is total." Baudrillard and many of his contemporaries detaile d the causes and consequences of the overwhelming alienation that afflicted the consumer class. While theorists like Marcuse talk about The End of Transcendence" where individuals can perceive neither their own true needs nor another way of life, Baudrill ard criticizes capitalism for robbing individuals of their freedom, creativity, time and human potentialities. Instead, the individual is left to struggle with anomie in a society of abundance; where fatigue with the demands of labour, leisure and consumpt ion result in sub cultural and criminal violence (Kellner 13.)
21 III. ARTISTS In order to fully assess the critical capacity of collage as a form of visual discourse, I will now turn my attention to several artists whose work complement each other in so far as they allow an historically sensitive understanding of the technique and its interpretations. Citroen and Modernity As an early collage artifact for analysis, I have selected the w idely celebrated work of Paul Citroen Metropolis 1923. It was th e first piece that brought Citroen's name to the forefront of post World War I avant garde groups, being shown for the first time at a 1923 Bauhaus exhibition in Weimar Berlin. Citroen was among the first artists associated with the Bauhaus to use the new technique of collage to complete his composition. The arrangement of the work reveals foresight and planning made possible by the borrowing from printed media. Citroen's personal history allows any serious analytical consideration of Metropolis to extend to a broader historical interpretation of his work. Citroen was a Berlin native born of Dutch parents who became deeply affiliated with the Bauhaus movement shortly after World War I. Under the disciplined influence of the Bauhaus vision, he described his time in the group as "all unbelievably enthusiastic work over the common goal of perfection of the sovereign idea."(Bauhaus, 46.) Indeed a noticeable erosion of the boundaries between life in relation to objects and in relation to art became
22 a cultivated p reoccupation for artists living and working in and around wartime in the early 1900s. Citroen's piece is composed of a collection of building facades, functional monuments, such as bridges, and populated intersections, all borrowed from the minutia of pub lic and popular printed media such as postcards and advertisements. However the work is organized in such a way as to give the impression of a booming metropolis, one equipped with all the functional structures necessary for a fast growing urban environme nt, including the trademark of a city skyline and popular squares for business and socializing. The striking fluidity of Citroen's thoughtful layout finds its finest expression in the subtle layering and division of what might have then been considered al l the primary functions of an ideal city. The emphasis lie s in the idealized city having seamless integration of all its parts, which Citroen imposes rather successfully in his design. The deliberate layout of the collage lends it a cartographic character. Viewed from a distance it presents itself as a map of a future city equipped with various recognizable and publicly lauded features of any major city. Exaggerated, angled perspectives guided the eye through the densely clustered layers of windows and arc hes and the subtle use of contrast alleviated the interruption of sudden edges as the spectators gaze moves through the piece. There is an element of chaos as the eye seeks searches for a space to settle in the jumbled landscape. Despite the grid like comp osition aided by the exactness of every one of his pasted edges, there is a persistent aura of tension. A miniature cascade of facades in the upper left corner resembles a monument out of reach, whose invisible path is eclipsed by a collision of perspectiv es and columns, arches and
23 towers and an innumerable presence of dark vacant windows. Few forms alleviated this tension, however some modest curves, carrying the implications of a tunnel, transported the gaze like a futuristic portal to a counter part not far away. A dark, yet interrupted diagonal pierces nearly the center of the composition, with an arrow headed form that appears to be passing under an archway. Despite an overwhelming number of buildings and structures, there is a noticeable lack in Citroe n's representation of the city. Few words are present apart from the plainly displayed ODOL' descending along the contours of an eastward facing faade gripping the edge of the composition. There is one deliberately collaged lettering, however. In a mix m atched font haphazardly staggered at the bottom of the composition we see the word "Scala"; likely referring to the attention to scale in organizing the piece. The word itself appears at just the moment the collaged facades take a drastic shift in scale. T he effect is a sense of completion, a sense that from this perspective the buildings approaching the horizon would dwarf those in this smaller cluster. The cartographic qualities emerge again as the slight bustle of cars and pedestrians, at the scale of do ts in comparison to their monolithic surroundings, scatter, attempting to situate themselves somehow in their disproportionate landscape. His blatant desire to call attention to scale and dimension is underscored by the tension and containment of the speck ling of crowds and the collisions of material edges and perspectives. The buildings compound one another in a race towards the edge. Each cutout finds itself cleanly yet desperately pressed against the edge of the paper upon which it was glued. The bounda ries of the paper act as a frame, holding only the emblematic slice of a larger whole whose boundaries, like its parts, are barely contained. Rather they are in a perpetual race for
24 outward expansion. The limits of Citroen's metropolis are unknowable and all a spectator can apprehend is its sheer density and the relative insignificance of the pedestrian life, in contrast to the dominating influence of expansion and productivity. Considerations of scale might be an easy explanation of this lack; the dimensi ons of the buildings cause them to visibly tower over one another, both in proportion and in the physical surface of the cutout forms. These dimensions leave a proportionately limited space for the representation of social life and even perhaps most small scale advertisement. Although windows, roads, ramps and arches are abundant, the absence of words and confined displays of social life indicate a dominant preoccupation with structural development over any consideration for the progress of the individual life; It is as though the ideal archetypal city were somehow exclusive of social living. However, his choice of materials indicates a subtle relationship to advertisement and social life, as Metropolis finds its imagery derived almost exclusively from maga zines and postcards. The previously noted dramatic angles that carried compositional significance can similarly be attributed to a relationship between material and intention, as is paramount in collage. The absence of human figures may have a further his torical consideration if we approach the biographical knowledge of the artist. Paul Citroen was a known student of the Bauhaus, a formative artistic collective which developed in Weimar Germany circa 1919 until about 1933 6 (#Bauhaus). The Bauhaus developed a formidable architectural 6 The institution of Bauhaus was highly affected by cultural political events, particularly the politic al upheavals brought about by the Nazi regime. However Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, declared, naively, that the Bauhaus was entirely apolitical. The Bauhaus style was marked by the absence of ornamentation and by harmony between the function of an object or a building and its design, although the main concepts of the style was developed at least 12 years before by the Deutscher Werkbund, a German national designers' association. The Werkbund established many fundamental questions of
25 legacy in art history, however at its inception the priority was a disciplined and intellectual fusion of crafts and fine arts with the intentions of promoting a distinct functional thought on design. Collage presented an ideal opportunity for the expression of a critical approach to fine arts that redefined the field while summarizing its essence. Just as in the case of Braque, Picasso and similar Cubists, new materials struggled to find a place in the fine arts. Setting aside for a moment the origins of the critical aesthetic debate around collage; a second interpretation of the relationship between material and intention in Citroen's Metropolis provides additional insight. Citroen's forward attempt at calling attention to scal e, his intention in relation to his choice of materials travel brochure and postcard imagery suggest a metaphorical awareness of the expansion and production of these materials. Without an expansion of printed media in public life, such a composition migh t not exist. It might be fair to assert that even the inspiration for his work might not have occurred, had his visual sensibilities and acute awareness of the transformations in daily life been dulled by a stagnant and predictable living. Collage seems to be for Citroen an ideal response to a refined visual argument and a format for questions never before posed to traditional fine arts; questions that call into serious deliberation the metaphorical and semantic relations of material to form and content (#f ootnote/ semiotics and linguistic theory at the time). Following this formal interpretation and biographical insight, it comes as no surprise that the artist himself emphasized the notion of a practical vision into the future when speaking to fame of the piece Metropolis : craftsmanship versus mass production, the relationship of usefulness and beauty, the practical purpose of formal beauty in a commonplace object, and whether or not a single proper form could exist.
26 "Afterwards I tried to explain why Metropolis became such a success. Maybe because most collages are somewhat arbitrary. But I planned that [one], if you would paste pictures of buildings on a large sheet, it should give the impression of the way many cities look like. It was the view into the future. It certainly was not just a silly idea" (Bauhaus, 47.) As objects dominated modern living, artists such as Citroen demonstrated both in their work and their lifestyles, an awareness of an in extricable link between modern art, modern identity and modern living. Objectification becomes an almost implicit theme of collage work at this time. The mass production, distribution and availability of material possessions, printed or dimensional, became more common, encouraging a noticeable accumulation of cultural scraps and refuse from which collage artists drew influence and, literally, material. Citroen's Metropolis is an emblematic piece for early stage collage in that it effectively encapsulates th e transformations of a post war era that invaded public life. In the same piece we observe the expansive and competitive growth of the metropolis as well as the heralds of a subtler decline of the public sphere. An acute awareness of and sensitivity to the shifts in modern life beyond the productive industries found its critical expression in the new technique of collage. Faced with an unfamiliar loss of identity, the avant gardes sought to form a new identity born from the scraps and excesses that dominate d their modern and alienated lives. Eduardo Paolozzi and the Intimate Collage I selected Eduardo Paolozzi as an emblematic next stage collagist, because I found his work to be full of general randomness in his image selection that provokes a
27 deep questio ning of and sensitivity to his sources. Brandon Taylor describes Paolozzi's work as pulling precisely against the communication of content'" (Taylor, 132.) For my analysis I've chosen a selection of four pieces from his 1967 collage series entitled Moon strips Empire News The pieces themselves remained untitled, as is common with many of Paolozzi's series, which include an unusually high number of works. The Moonstrips Empire News series contains 100 pieces arranged in no particular order, displayed in an opaque acrylic box with an opaque lid. The ambiguous order and naming of the pieces is deliberate and intended to provoke an entirely free and unrestrained plethora of associations between images and texts, associations uninterrupted by any apparent or unintended hierarchy or organization apart from the content of the pieces themselves. Born March 7 th 1924, in north Edinburgh, Scotland, Paolozzi was the eldest son of Italian immigrants. His family's immigrant status in Britain caused them considerable t rouble in the interwar period 7 Though he attended a few art schools in Britain in the 1940s, he found his place in 1944 at the Slade School of Fine art at the University of London. During his time at the Slade School he became acquainted with the figures that would later join him to form the Independent Group. His dedicated exhibitions with the Independent Group catalyzed Paolozzi's imaginative depictions of the fragmented society he studied. The series I've chosen, loosely related and based on a shared so urce of text and images, is analyzed through a selection of its most prominent works. For the purpose of 7 I n 1940 he was interned at Saughton prison; while his father, who ha d also been detained, drowned on a British ship sunken by a German U boat.
28 this analysis I have selected two images (see fig. 1 2). Let me begin with a descriptive analysis of the images. Despite being part of the same series this piece takes a distinct turn from the content and organization of the remaining pieces. The overall composition is of a series of square frames in four sets of distinct sizes, carrying the sense of sequential order. At the top of the composition Paol ozzi placed a slim rectangular form that contains the black and white repeating arrows and checkered boxes common in racing scenarios. This object, positioned at the top left and beginning of a sequence of frames, gives the spectator a sense of urgency and heightened awareness of time and movement. In his first sequence of eight frames, split into two rows, Paolozzi isolated a series of disembodied hands at work. Presumably all use the same hand. It is uncertain whether the order is truly chronological; thi s uncertainty is underscored by the ambiguity of the task. The hands appear to be feminine and the task or tasks, perhaps culinary or domestic. The following series of frames, four uneven frames, taller and slimmer than those above them, contain an obscur ed object that appears to be moving into position from frame to frame. The object in the frame has the outline of rigid geometries that make it appear technological, while the frame itself echoes this geometry. The darkened upper right corner shows a serie s of similar frames giving the impression that the content is of a reading or footage of some sort borrowed from a technological instrument. The spectator feels an awareness of the means of viewing instead of the feeling of gazing at an object in motion. T he act of viewing becomes abstracted as it becomes measurably articulated by a piece of technology, which exists outside the spectator.
29 In the third series of frames there are three irregular frames, with the last frame adjusted to echo the graphic forms a t the onset of the sequences. In these frames we see an alarming three part sequence; a little child, in what seems as bright colorful clothing despite the contrast and grayscale, is struggling with a large and slightly misshapen figure whose details are u nknown, as its form is entirely black and only the human like qualities of his stance are deduced. The alarming action is contrasted by the calm location in what appears to be a broad and expansive field. Neither sky nor land shows any signs of civilizatio n or surrounding neighbors. The struggle is isolated in a non descript piece of land. In the first frame the child and the figure touch hands and there is as of yet no clear sign of struggle. Into the second frame the child figure appears smaller, dwarfed by the hovering gaze of the blackened figure, whose arms are spread wide above and around the child, fingers splayed and arched as if intending to scare or surprise the child. In the last frame, the action is no less ambiguous. By this time the child is held tightly in the grasp of the darkened figure, and raised above the ground, legs dangling, back visible below the colorful shirt, which is now raised and wrinkled above his shoulders. The field appears lighter now, by contrast. The dark figure appears c loser and slightly more detail is visible in the musculature of its arms and legs as it carries the weight of the child. Now there is more detail in its hair and face, as frizzy tendrils break haphazardly from the head and slight white marks in the face gi ve the impression of a piercing white gaze and gaping wide maw slightly open, perhaps a smile or perhaps a herald of what is to come. In a series of three final frames, returning to an even and consistent square, Paolozzi displays what appears to be a clos e up of some kind of a medical operation or perhaps the mechanized manipulation of a skin like or leathery material. The mostly
30 obscured and irregular forms read as inanimate and the intrusion of what appears to be metal tools echoes the ambiguous violence of the previous sequence. Paolozzi's intentions, without doubt, are to impose a questionable narrative between the sequences. It is a narrative you do not want to believe, yet one which poses equally doubtful alternatives. The returning presence of human form, isolated hand or full figure, juxtaposed with the abstract and impersonal technological sequences leaves the spectator with a heightened attention to movement, motion, and actions as they occur over time. The opportunity to perceive sequential moment s all at once, an inhuman innovation, rewrites these narrative actions over time. In fact, as a result, one might question the narrative entirely, for chronology, content, or truth. Unlike the previous piece, this work includes a variety of color. This com position remains loyal to Paolozzi's grid like schematic. This piece also departs from the figure 1in that it exclusively uses the juxtaposition of imagery and color. There is an apparent tension in initially viewing the piece due to the seeming randomness of its sources. However, the predominance of the figure surfaces as a salient feature. Forms are contrasted in unnatural colors, where the once dominant black has given way to purples, browns, oranges and greens. Reading the composition like a book, as mi ght be one's first intuition, you notice that Paolozzi starts the spectator with a mechanical form. Although apparently industrial and inanimate, this bit of technology is less hostile and abstract than the mechanical imagery from figure 1. The repetition of metallic curves calls attention to the smoothness of the object's surface as well as a potential motion or movement the object might perform. Seemingly showing a container for some substance that recedes into darkness in the smaller circle, the overall image gives a sense space and an
31 awareness of filling that space. To the right of this panel, we see a static sculpture of an assertive poised figure, facing full forward and shrouded by several figures located behind it and peering forward. The dominant f igure, only partially draped, has its hands casually yet firmly placed on the free knee of its crossed legs. Presumably the figure is female as the classical style of sculpture shows gentle definition to the arms and torso, which is common for statues of this kind depicting women. The character or nature of her company is unclear, yet the central figure seems unaware or undeterred in its gaze. The repetition of forward gazes throws a focus back at the spectator. The overall mood of this image is a sense of historicism, a sense of awareness of a momentum to history through the vehicle of its objects. The gaze appears like a warning; the figures gaze into the spectator with a sense of knowing; perhaps mirroring the gaze of its spectator rendering him or her a nother one of history's objects. The bottom half of the composition returns to living human figures. To the left in a bright orange, a cropped photograph of three figures, possibly identifiable at the time. One of them slightly cropped at the left of the f rame is Einstein, as Paolozzi held an open admiration for the theorist. Their austere forward gaze echoes that of the statue before it. To the right of this panel, in complete departure from the austerity and ambiguity of those before it, we see a sequent ial narrative of two heterosexual lovers at the shore caught in a passionate nude embrace as they lean closer to kiss. The sequence appears to culminate in this intimate frame. The momentum of the narrative carries the spectator through history and innova tion to a timeless display of love and affection. Perhaps this same narrative may have been constructed with the use of a single frame of embrace, but using Paolozzi's sequence, which demonstrates intrigue with time and chronology as a lens, we
32 might inter pret an ephemeral significance to the embrace that is not the static moment the images before it suggest. The kiss is the culmination of its own narrative that exists parallel to the historical imperatives depicted; inextricably linked, the kiss might happ en again or have already occurred several times at any point in history. The kiss may have meant to repeat itself; it is perhaps ahistorical and yet a catalyst in our timeline nonetheless. The symbolic strength and impact of Paolozzi's work is undeniable. However his inspiration and motivations remain permanently tied to his time period. His generation of what might be considered a second wave of surrealist collagists was one that was characterized by its post war experiences. Growing up it witnessed the te nsions of high art and mass culture, in particular the overpowering influx of American products and wholly rejecting traditional fine art hierarchies (Taylor, 130.) Critic Lawrence Alloy said, "They were born too late to be adopted into the system of taste that gave aesthetic certainty to our parents and teachers we grew up with mass media. Unlike our parents and teachers we did not experience the impact of the movies, the radio, the illustrated magazines. The mass media were established as a natural envir onment by the time we could see them." (Taylor, 134.) BUNK! is the name given to the first lecture given by Paolozzi in April 1952 that was described as chaotic, unarticulated, [and] attended only by a handful." In it he included a series of ten collages containing a mish mash of technical, mechanical, soft porn and advertising images tinged with a theme of eroticism and technology that became characteristic of his works. Known for his early knack for collecting the colorful scraps and minutia of his gene ration, Paolozzi had been assembling scrapbooks and mass
33 culture images from the age of 10. This is likely a practice no doubt inherited from the surrealist legacy that was invading Britain at the time. In addressing one of his more popular scrapbooks, Psy chological Atlas he affirms that: "Only in collage can improbable events be frozen into peculiar assemblies by manipulation: time and space can be drawn together into new spatial strategiesfigures from a Turkish landscape trapped by cruelty may be relea sed and find themselves perplexed and frightened in a French nursery flanked by a mechanical sphinxthe Rathaus in Zurich dwarfed by a frog represents not only poetic ambiguity but a personal hypothesis.The word collage' is inadequate as a description be cause the concept should include damage', erase', deface', transform' etc, all parts of a metaphor for the creative act itself" (Taylor, 132.) The art as I see it is speaking candidly and intelligently of itself, the artist, and the spectator. It is a significant detail that Paolozzi and his collaborators in the Independent Group 8 did carry a seemingly hypocritical stance on fine art hierarchy and knowledge. His work also plays in interesting juxtaposition to the legacy of his collagist predecessors su ch as Citroen and Hoch 9 both very much concerned with the immediacy of commodified living, which was reflected in their material content and compositions. The randomness of Paolozzi's compositions lend a peculiar intimacy to his collages as the compositio n appears to have some order which is understood only by the artist, yet it is composed of images familiar to anyone. Again, Taylor aptly describes the experience, 8 The Independent Group was an organization under the ICA in London that consisted of painters, sculptors, architects, writers and critics who wanted to challenge prevailing modern ist approaches to culture. 9 Hannah Hch was among the few well known female Dadaists who lived and worked in collaboration with contemporaries such as Raoul Hausmann and Kurt Schwitters.
34 "The spectator is caught cleverly between alienation and inclusion or has somehow to reconc ile his or her position between the two" (132.) John Stezaker & Image Life and Death Born in Worcester, England in 1949, John Stezaker expanded on the legacy of his predecessors active in the largely British based Independent Group. He followed 25 years after Paolozzi's academic career at the renowned Slade School of Art, where he received his BFA in 1973. Largely unknown in America, his celebrity, much like Paolozzi's, was limited to an spectator of active and educated artistic or literary peers. Unusua lly philosophically attuned for an artist of his time, Stezaker's interest in ontological query remains a dominant theme in his life's work well into the present (Warstat Interview, 68.) His conceptual development, regularly documented in interviews, revea ls a passionate concern for the ontological status of the image. In effect, his collages demonstrate a focused and deliberate visual investigation of the ontological existence of the Image as conveyed by theorists such as Marcuse, Blanchot, and Sartre. U nwilling to identify as a child of the mass media generation, Stezaker describes his cultural experiences as rooted in the post mass media era, which might be characterized as an era that turned a critical eye on the past as well as the present (Warstat In terview, 71.) He describes his initial interests in collage in the 1980s as focused on a notion of cultural termini a term he used to describe a mass culture, which he saw as "a terminus for romantic idealswhilst representing a way of re finding them" ( Warstat Interview, 70.) The rediscovering of the sacred (romantic) in the contentious profanity of the media image reflects a uniquely post mass cultural perspective. This is
35 not to say that Stezaker's generation was lacking in or was numb to the influence s of mass culture, rather, that the continuing influence was a notion of increasing obsolescence of modern modes of thinking and consumption. Perhaps his sensitivity to the ephemeral nature of image reception in tandem with his fondness for the writings o f Blanchot and De Man 10 moved him to seek out the oddities in the glossy photographs of celebrities from before his time. "The stereotype was capable of challenging the critical. I didn't want to deconstruct the stereotype; I didn't want to incorporate tha t distance. I wanted to celebrate the stereotype in some ways, though not for its truth value but for its autonomous falsity." Stezaker approached his works in a series of persistent investigations, where each series embodied a single approach to investig ation. These investigations were not completed chronologically, however. Various series were ongoing simultaneously resulting in pieces from the same series being produced years apart. As we will later see, the extended timeframe for each series is a resul t of the particular process Stezaker pursues in his work. For this reason we will look at three pieces from the same series. We will consider the ways in which his techniques criticized or celebrated the ontological existence of the image. Tabula Rasa II 1983 In the grounding (background) image of Tabula Rasa II (1983) we see a monk standing on a dock in solitude. The far right placement of the clergyman in the composition lends a dramatic compositional focus on his deeply cast leftward gaze. His 10 Maurice Blanchot (1907 2003) French theorist and Paul De Man (1919 1983) Belgian theorist were both post structuralists known for their work on themes of aesthetics and language.
36 gaze is apparently averted away from the impressive sloping mountains just across the water and towards a subject that escapes our sight as the spectators. The inherent satisfaction that one gets in finding the answer to the mystery of the clergyman's gaze is deni ed to us by Stezaker's boldly placed solid white rectangular cut out. The size and the placement of the cutout neither overwhelm the newly created image composite, nor does it fit seamlessly into the original narrative of the ground image. Rather Stezaker' s obstructive cutout forces our expectations into a realm of doubt and uncertainty. As a spectator we suddenly become aware of the various dynamics at work, both within the image surface and within our intuitions and biases for interpretations. We are for ced to consider the implications of the gaze, both our own and that of the figure in the piece. A possibly banal grounding image is transformed and its possibilities exposed by the simple vehicle of creation through destruction, a salient focus of the Stez aker collage method in the Tabula Rasa series. The Tabula Rasa series demonstrates the possibility for subtle play between form and content using a single image. Rather than obscure the original content of an image with new information, Stezaker introduce s a notion of absence or lack represented by the staunchly formal bareness of a solid white rectangle. Where theoretical inflection may not be blatantly present to a casual spectator, an educated spectator may find that the ambiguity lends itself to deeper questioning of the life and death of the image that occurs during image's destruction.
37 Tabula Rasa XIII, 2006 In this piece we once again are confronted with the gaze of two individuals, an older man and a fashionably dressed woman staring into the fam iliar white trapezoid. Similar to the first piece, there is something noticeably denied to the spectator in the scene, however in this instance we retain the hint of a male figure who arm and hips remain in sight while his torso and head are obstructed by the cut out trapezoid. The scene is a promotional still from a film production printed on a post card. In the still we find a trio caught in the middle of dialogue inside what appears to be the family room of a modestly furnished home. The older man and fa shionably dressed woman both have their gaze fixated by the male figure whose facial expression is omitted from the composition. The only clue we have as to the nature of the scene comes from the title at bottom center of the post card "Please Don't Eat th e Daisies", the title of the film. We can also note the placement of the figures. The older man apparently removed from the immediate dialogue gazes expectantly in the background, off to the right side of the frame and slightly out of focus. By contrast, t he woman is within arm's reach of the omitted male figure and appears to be engaged intimately with the figure that has his thumbs casually hanging off his pants pockets and his sleeves rolled up. Tabula Rasa XV, 2009 In this last piece we have once ag ain three figures, all presumably male, in the living room of a home. In this particular piece it is the one figure on the far right who is left untouched and is gazing into the blank trapezoid cutout that obscures the other two figures. His expression is a mild anticipating grin combined with a rigid and erect posture
38 that contrasts with the identical pose of the other figures whose shoulders, arms and legs indicate an authoritative pose with their arms resting folded or presumably clasping behind their b acks. The visible figure appears to be in bellhop uniform. We might assume that the two obscured figures are the hotel guests engaged in some relevant discourse with their visible servant. There is a slight mocking tone in the visible figures expression, w hich appears neither markedly concerned nor seriously engaged. Rather, the expression appears to be somewhat jovial and curious, an impression that contrasts the seriousness of the pose of his counterparts. The ambiguity of the true position and status of the obscured figures, particularly as it relates to the visible figure raises the question of the power dynamic and true focal point of the scene. Viewing each piece individually presents the opportunity do use details to gain insight into the dynamics ac tive in each composition, however it is only when considered collectively that the relevance of the technique is most salient. For this reason we will consider the dynamics as they relate from piece to piece in the series. A bitter twist on the similar fas cination apparent in Paolozzi's time, Stezaker's work is a response to the fragmented image culture catalyzed by the film and television industries, which had been on the rise since the 1920s. Where Paolozzi and his contemporaries in the Independent Group responded to the promise of new technologies and images, Stezaker's generation observed the first wave of their deaths without having witnessed their birth. His awareness of the ontology of the image, the life and death of the image is evident in his choic e of images of early television and film actor portraits. These productions where from an era that Stezaker had no personal familiarity with due to it
39 being before his time. In an interview with the artist 11 he conveys the romantic lens with which he viewed these newly neglected cultural objects (the public image of the film industry and its stars): "[The image] has already undergone a separation from the real it must now be excavated to be collected. It belongs to a world which I never knew." Stezaker's pri mary interest is in exploiting the limits of what can be known or understood by the image of an object that is no longer real. The act of excavating and excising the images in imbued with significance to the extent that it calls attention to the qualities and characteristics of the object that remain, the formal qualities of its image. Given this duality of image and object, Stezaker raises the question of the relation between the two the extent to which they can and continue to signify the same meaning. We should note that an curiosity for looking to the past is nothing new to collage. In fact, the renowned collagists Max Ernst (#footnote) produced his celebrated graphic novel Une Semaine de Bont in 1937 using exclusively images from Victorian era encyclop edias. However Ernst lived through the decline of the Victorian era. Both Ernst and Stezaker share a distance from the source images of their works. By choosing images historically removed from their origins, Stezaker's collages introduce the spectator in to the ongoing notion of the life and death of the image. The images are no longer representations of the real but rather symbols of something whose intended significance is ephemeral despite the persistence of the image as artifact. Stezaker's visual int roduction into the ontology of the image uses the vehicle of interrupting the surface of an image and destroying its previous life' or significance. This destructive approach to the image echoes the destructive effects of the productive forces of mass med ia; As quickly as images were born they soon came to die. The momentum of productive forces 11 Warstat Interview p. 72.
40 had a parallel momentum in social life that rendered objects and images obsolete with surprising speed. This dynamic towards obsolescence was particularly apparent with mass media images and printed materials. The dynamic became the foundation for the image culture which Stezaker's generation observed with a critical eye. Stezaker's loyalty to the representations of an image culture he was divorced from furthers the conceptual notion of exile from a cultural world. It is fitting that an artist inspired to create by witnessing the death of images would communicate this romantic inspiration by an analogous destructive method of sharp incisions into the surface of outda ted printed images. We now see in the works of each artist a variety of cultural concerns expressed through the creation and manipulation of readily available printed material. Using these examples we can begin to consider tendencies in collage to theoriz e or communicate something relevant to culture and contemporary society. The salient contrasts and similarities between the artists who span a broad period of historical and cultural development presents the foundation of a continuing discussion on the rel evance of collage to society, both for the artist in the act of creation and for the spectator in the experience of the work of art.
41 IV. Applied Theory If we reconsider the artists' works under a Collingwoody lens there is a linear interpretation that hi ghlights the key undercurrent running through all the pieces, the articulated expression of a previously inchoate emotion. It is difficult to adequately discuss the details of the inchoate impetus that drove each artist to create. However, the crux of Col lingwood's theory of aesthetic expression is largely focused on the articulated emotion rather than the inchoate. In this way we are able to understand something about the aesthetic expression through the artwork rather than speculative psychological anal yses. Within our grasp as spectators is a first hand experience of the piece, which according to Collingwood, is presumably analogous to the experience of the Artist in creating it. We have the opportunity to experience as spectators an articulated emotion whose expression was mediated by the creation of the work of art. It is through assessing our experience as spectator that we are able to fully understand and view critically the articulated emotion of any work. Recall the observational work presented in the earlier portion of this chapter. For the purpose of applying a Collingwoody analytic approach these observations will constitute the spectator experience from which the theoretical application will take reference. In the case of Citren, recall the he avily cluttered vision of multi story building facades; the urgency with which each building edge (both the papers edge and the images edge) appeared to compete for a more dominant presence in the composition. The intensity and desperation of competition i s a prominent quality of the articulated
42 emotion of the piece. In my first encounter with Metropolis I experienced a quickening of breath as my eyes scanned the overwhelming and repetitive dynamic landscape, as I described earlier in the chapter: Exaggera ted, angled perspectives guided the eye through the densely clustered layers of windows and arches and the subtle use of contrast alleviated the interruption of sudden edges as the viewers gaze moves through the piece. There is an element of chaos as the e ye searches for a space to settle in the jumbled landscape. Despite the grid like composition aided by the exactness of every one of his pasted edges, there is a persistent aura of tension. I noted the lack of figures and the imbalance between the number o f people and the sheer number of windows, facades and archways. There was however a subtle degree of homogeneity in the piece. Though claustrophobic, no faade appeared to successfully dominate any other; rather, each structure asserted itself in its own s pace and appeared to belong in such close competition with the others: The striking fluidity of Citroen's thoughtful layout finds its finest expression in the subtle layering and division of what might have then been considered all the primary functions o f an ideal city. The emphasis lie s in the idealized city having seamless integration of all its parts, which Citroen imposes rather successfully in his design. The salient features of tension coupled with a lack of social life seem to find an ephemeral bal ance in Citren's expression. Despite this thin veil of homogeneity, the tension was unforgettable. If this tension is to be understood as the primary subject of expression, we can grasp at an imaginative glimpse of the inchoate emotion that Citren may h ave chosen to express. The clarity of expression for us as spectators is necessarily limited by the lack of first hand experience in creating the piece, however the strength of articulation remains as there is some salient aspect to the expression that is retained in the mind of the spectator.
43 The articulated emotion appears in part a sense of fear or apprehension but also a sense of awe at the subtle balance. We can take a similar approach with Paolozzi. Much more openly fascinated with the history of soci ety told through its objects, he took as the focus of his expression the general notion of a historical narrative. In playing with the juxtapositions of the objects of the narrative, Paolozzi set out to understand something about the relation of the object s and their origins. How easily are object displaced from their origins? How much are their significance tied to their origins? Recall in his pieces the apparent randomness of images or obscuring of their exact contents. Unlike in Citren's work, apparent homogeneity is lacking. Instead we experience something that reads much more as a visual language. In our experience we attempt to harmonize the disharmonious and pursue a salient organization. The objects, gathered from all domains of life and society fro m historical imagery to military documentation to cultural and domestic subjects, are selected and curated for the spectator, creating a kind of museum of objects as artifacts and of images as artifacts. The articulated expression becomes that organization we choose to rationalize and use to make sense of the meticulous and idiosyncratic composition. Paolozzi discovered his own organization (something analogous if not identical to the creative emotion) through creation and presents to the spectator the oppo rtunity to have a similar creative experience by attempting to discover their own organization in the composition. This results in open variation between spectator experiences in terms of the organization they observe, as Paolozzi, more likely than not, in tended. As neatly as a Collingwoody interpretation seems to accommodate this understanding of both Citren's and Paolozzi's work, with John Stezaker's work the
44 neatly packaged interpretation is challenged. Stezaker's work takes on a more abstracted relatio n to objects. Rather than dealing with objects, as they are understood in everyday interactions, his collages demonstrate a notion of images as a class of objects. This same self aware treatment is less prominently demonstrated in the works of Citren and Paolozzi. The content of his work and the technique of his craft provoke a theoretical reflection that finds its focus in the identity of the image as an object itself rather than the object presented by the image. Stezaker reveals in an interview the plai nly Collingwoody nature of his process. He reveals that with the completion of each series he is chasing a definition which, once found, terminates the series for him. The desire to complete the series propels him and yet that desire can only persist so lo ng as the series is incomplete.: There is a contradiction, as you call it, or ambiguity, between the desire to complete a series, which is like bringing it to rest, and the movement of incompletion. A complete series is at rest just as a completed collect ion is dead it is ready to pass on. For me, it is a necessary death that allows it to go out into the world. In this case a complete series comes with the awareness of what he is trying to do and sharing that awareness with the world In this rare instanc e among the artists in this investigation, we have a first hand account of the apparent Collingwoody structure of Stezaker's creative process. The brevity of the aesthetic experience from the perspective of the spectator echoes the nature of the clarified and articulated emotion expressed through the final collages. We experience much more swiftly the visual tensions that drove Stezaker to dissect and disrupt the image surfaces and as parting memory we retain the seamless entity born from a precise and conc lusive articulation of creative expression.
4 5 The Tabula Rasa series is a prime example of the brevity of the spectator's aesthetic experience that sets up the Collingwoody interpretation of Stezaker's process. Looking at the series as whole, the method is s omewhat obvious; excise a polygon from the primary subject or subjects of the image. Recall in each piece how the visible figures remained fixated on the void created by the excision. The assumption that Stezaker was not so concisely aware of his intention is evident in the large gaps in time from piece to piece in the series. Had he been so aware, presumably, the pieces could have been accomplished in quick succession with the series swiftly sent out into the world. However Stezaker's process took time. It is a combination of an evolving method as well as the excavation of the appropriate image a significant factor in the time it took to gain full clarity. A clarified understanding of how a Collingwoody notion of creative expression applies to the artists i s only one part of the investigation into the critical capacity of collage. Once a structural notion of creative expression is understood, the question remains: What is the critical element in what is expressed? To answer this question, we transition to an analogical approach relating Baudrillard's theory on consumer society and collage. While Collingwood focused on expression, Baudrillard's perspective is focused on participation and interaction. Using his theory of consumption and the rise of the consumer class allows us to view the artists as a part of a contemporary society and responding to a collective experience shared with every individual in that society. From each artist we find a common curiosity about the objects of daily life. An elemental feat ure of collage art as a whole, the interest is not primarily with the objects in themselves but with the value they acquire in our interactions with them. An influential
46 aspect of collage history is its coincidence with the rise of consumer culture and the commodification of social life through its cultural objects. It is fitting, then, that collage should take as its material the literal objects of daily life in the midst of an era where all aspects of life witnessed increasing commodification. At a time when the accumulation of objects was a condition that became synonymous with modernity, collage struggled to find its deserving place among the exalted traditional fine arts: painting and sculpture. This accumulation, which helped catalyze the popularity o f collage among the avant grade, gave collage a contemporary edge over the comparatively antiquated traditional fine arts. Bearing this new connection to modernity, collage granted artists a distinct opportunity to communicate rapidly about their immediate surrounding, that evolved into a visual discourse that focused on the present day. It was almost impossible for academics to speak critically about the modern age without involving its objects. In a similar sense, collages may be understood as necessarily communicating critically about modernity by making ordinary objects its material. Necessarily invoking established and disruptive notions of certain objects and their significance, collage demonstrates an opportunity to discuss' these significances visua lly. Beginning with Citren, who in his time experienced earlier forms of capitalism, we have a traditional Marxist understanding of the structure and organization of society. Dominated by the imperatives of economics in his daily life, it is not a surpris e that we see themes of expansion and development in his work. We can assert that it is an overwhelming presence of or at the very least sensitivity to these imperatives that established the context which Citren was responding to. His collage may be under stood
47 as an articulation that was critical of these imperatives, either by highlighting their consequences or forewarning their effects. The objects that he elected to discuss' visually were those same objects that appeared to dominant his reality; namely the rise of the metropolis that was catalyzed by the boom in transportation and tourism industries. He presents them as sudden and dominating forces that overwhelmed social, domestic and, to some degree, individual life. We note something quite different with Paolozzi, who lived and worked in a time when early capitalism was changing form to become something more like the consumer driven culture we are familiar with today. The contents of his pieces reflect this new consumer identity juxtaposed with the i ncreased mechanization in all industries and everyday life. Consider the terms in which Baudrillard discusses the ascending consumer society. The system of objects that dominates and overwhelms the individual bears an analogous relation to the system devel oped by the spectator in the experience of Paolozzi's work. The system used by the spectator to rationalize the composition is a dominating system in so far as the system dominates the spectator's ability to interpret the piece. Held captive by the system of order, the spectator is forced to cooperate to guide her or his interactions with the objects in the piece. If it were possible to re experience Paolozzi's work for the first time with Baudrillard in mind, the relevant links might appear more salient th an before. I'm inclined to believe that Paolozzi's thinking in articulating his emotion was driven by similar observations as those of Baudrillard. That Paolozzi held some notion of a system of objects analogous to language is more than likely. For instanc e, in the unnamed pieced referred to earlier as Fig. 2, there is a notable logic arising from what appears to be
48 sequential images of movement or particular activities. The apparent ambiguity of the sequence and the questionable veracity of the order highl ight the necessity for a system of ordering to understand the image objects and to understand the activity. The sequence is able to communicate a sense of order in so far as the images appear to communicate order or submission to an organizing system, in s pite of the ambiguity of the ordering system itself, which is left to be determined by the spectator upon viewing. Leading with this inclination, Paolozzi attempts to disrupt or escape beyond the established or intuitive system of objects by presenting a s eemingly disparate or random composition to pose the challenge and highlight the tension of submission and domination, among other tensions. In Stezaker's work, we see a seeming retreat from the objective reality of daily life. What Stezaker is critiquing through collage can be seen as moving beyond Baudrillard's fundamentals of System of Objects and Consumer Society. An educated student of philosophy, Stezaker's involvement with theory is necessarily more profound and so it is fitting that his work should take a step towards what Marcuse called the ontology of the image [of the object]', rather than simply the object in a functional or material sense. Instead of a focus on objects that highlights some consumer value, Stezaker is working in a post consumer mindset. Rather than reorganize and manipulate the significance of objects as objects of consumption, he manipulates the significance of objects in obsolescence. Beginning with an air of nostalgia, Stezaker manipulates in his collage of the symbols of pas t era of film industry: actors, sets, scene stills, which are understood in different terms in his time.
49 The theoretical bulk of what these dated fragments of culture allows us to discuss is what Marcuse calls the ontology of the image', that is the objec t as an image of that retains the sign value of the object. His works highlighted the opportunity for distance and abstraction that the image creates. Recall his collaged portraits. The materials consist of photographs; an image of the actor. The object im age is distanced from the object represented in the image, in this case the actor. In a collage of two portraits, the dual perception of the collaged photo object and the actor objects are strengthened. The ability to relate individuals as objects is expos ed by the formal play between their portraits, a manipulation of their image. Baudrillard speaks directly to this effect of communicating and relating through image with his notion of the individuals interaction with and use of sign value as a new category of commodity value: Objects their syntax and their rhetoric refer to social objectives and to a social logic. They speak to us not so much of the user and of technical practices, as of social pretensions and resignation, of social mobility and inertia, of acculturation and enculturation, of stratification and of social classification. Through objects, each individual and each group searches out her/his place in order, all the while trying to jostle this order according to a personal trajectory. Through obj ects a stratified society speaks and, if like the mass media, objects seem to speak to everyone (there are no longer by right any caste objects), it is in order to keep everyone in a certain place. In short, under the rubric of objects, under the seal of private property, it is always a continual social process of value which leads the way. And everywhere and always, objects, in addition to utensils, are the terms and the avowal of the social process of value.
50 Individuals communicate with themselves and so ciety through their accumulation of objects as they attempt to mediate through personal trajectories'. With Stezaker, we see exactly this social labor that is taking place in the creation of a work art.
51 IV. Artistic Exploration of The Collage Process In this section I will introduce and discuss my personal collages. Following the discussion of two distinct theories, the creation of original work is the final step in my exploration of the communicative capacity of collage as a critical art medium. At t he outset, the thesis project was defined by an interest in exploring the significance of Collage art. This interest being motivated by both artistic and analytical concerns encouraged the project first taking shape in the form of research into the art his tory of collage and collage artists. Once a cultural context for the rise of collage was evident, the creation of an original body of work became a crucial element of the investigation. It is rare that I have a work of art entirely preconceived. However in the form of sketches and drawn or sculpted studies, a degree of planning is usually a significant first step to any project. In this endeavor, I soon realized it is impossible to preconceive a collage composition, particularly if the image sources are still unknown. The project was organized around the timely completion of a series of screen printed collages unified by a theme of contemporary identity. The theme was analyzed into specific ideas of identity that were intended to be he focus of particula r collages in the series. Fortunately up to this point in time I had diligently yet unintentionally collected an archive of digital and printed images that had at some point in time prompted me to set them aside. This digital archive was an accidental reco rd of images passively collected with no discernable purpose beyond relative visual content as a stimulus for conceptual and creative thinking. It was a primarily visual archive of artifacts that at one time signified something inchoate,
52 yet salient enough deserve curating' in digital form. The ubiquity of digital images in daily life instilled in me a subconscious desire to curate unfamiliar imagery; a desire that was well suited to the limitless resource of digital images. In order to give my work some d irection I made myself a list of thematic words and phrases that I associated with emotionally driven tensions I saw recurring in my accidental archive. This is not usually an element of my art making process; I was forced to acknowledge and extended plann ing stage for collage work that I had never need with any other kind of art. The themes I identified were: gender binaries, mechanization, fragmented identity, multiplicity, redundancy and consumption. However, even with these broad themes chosen it was d ifficult to move directly into the art making. Associating images with themes was a simple task, but had a limited ability to elaborate on the vague impetus that propelled me through the process. I found that I went through a cyclical process of refining m y images into verbalized themes and back into images, beginning the cycle again. The cycle involved categorizing and re categorizing resulting in a refining of verbalized concepts and collected images. Through this cyclical process I synthesized three focu sed ideas that fell under a general notion of identity formation' and narrowed the collection of images that would later be used in the series. These more focused ideas were: celebrated anonymity, control/dominance and violence, and ornamental identity. I should note that prior to this point in the creative aspect of the project, theoretical research was at an early point. It was limited to a first encounter with Collingwood but no familiarity then with Baudrillard. In effect, I had in mind at the time
53 a theory of art making based on Collingwood's Principles of Art but no theory on culture or identity formation, as I would later gain from Baudrillard. After isolating more specific themes to motivate the visual studies in each collage, I sought the expertis e of a Professor with whom I'd worked with in the past 12 After presenting to her my initial process to arrive at the thematic phrases, she cautions against any generalizing perceptions of identity and cultural meaning. Realizing the specificity of my weste rn and American cultural bias, I revised my image selections for their cultural relevance. Once art making had begun, with the first piece focusing on celebrated anonymity, I experienced difficulty with the material. The initial decision to work with prin ted images I had first encountered in a digital form became counter intuitive. I was aware of the inherent technological inclination to my visual thinking. Though the first completed piece was physically composed of rearranged printed images that were cut and pasted by hand, I noticed the fluidity of execution was hindered by the physical limitations of a cut and paste method. While printing the images appeared to literally and figurative flatten the possibilities with the composition, it gained a physical immediacy. The advantages of a cut and paste method came out of its limitations, in that physical limits became a guide for construction. However, the diversity in textural and surface qualities introduced elements that were absent in the digital process. Regardless, from this experience, I determined the second and third pieces would be entirely digital in their composition, dealing with the images in their primary form. There were new advantages in the fluidity of the construction of these pieces and new potentials thanks to the options 12 Kim Anderson, Associate Professor of Art at New College of Florida.
54 created by digital tools. Multiplicity and color manipulations allowed by digital manipulations opened up the possibility for color isolation and transparency as well as the use of fewer source images in a single compositio n. Looking back at my series and its contents there is a marked use of the human figure and an inclination for narrative or sequential composition. Despite there being a disruption between the verbalized thematic phrases translated into a visual product, spectator response suggested a similarity between the visualized and intellectualized experience of the pieces. The feedback I received from viewers was an indication of different ideas than those intended communicated in the compositions. However, these new ideas were still evidently related to dominant theme of identity, in so far as it unified the pieces in the series. This suggested that a similar consideration that went into the development of the series was communicated by the series as a whole. Be ginning with a desire to communicate something culturally pressing for myself, through each piece I attempted to communicate distinct critical positions towards a notion of contemporary western identity. It would contradict the fundamental assumption of my investigation that a work of art is able to present a clarified expression if I were to explicate the critical position to any verbal degree beyond elaborating on my process and particularly my thinking. As I've done with the work of Citron, Paolozzi, an d Stezaker, I identified general verbalized tensions that became vehicles for expression that might introduce a critical dialogue. However, the intention is far from communicating a concrete position, but rather my intention with each piece is to expand on the same sense of anomie and alienation to which Baudrillard makes reference in The Consumer Society Just as, when reading The Consumer Society I find articulated in theory experiences that
55 I had not known how to express prior to reading; in the process of aesthetic expression, I similarly became aware of my connection to a material identity that I had previously only understood as a nebulous association of words and images that provoked me. It is the collages themselves s, and not any verbal commentary, that most directly express my sense of this connection.
56 V. Conclusion Reflecting on the creative process, I felt a constant threat of communication falling into pure abstraction with the capacity of the digital imaging tools. The desire to effectively c ommunicate something current and culturally relevant provided a guide to save the process from surrender to pure abstraction. Instead the process resulted in an active and constant meditation on identity as mediated by the status of the (digital or materia l) image and the images themselves. The question arises: How do we come to understand ourselves as mediated through images? Identity is threatened by the status of the image and that status is inevitably linked to the reproduction of contemporary culture. In light of this creative exploration, Collage can be understood as a skill in the manipulation of visual language. It is an attempt to present an uncommon or alternative mode of communication that is constructive and creative to the extent that there is active participation in the creation of a cohesive product, whether by visually constructive or deconstructive means. The active nature of participation arises out of the intentional and direct manipulation of visual and verbal expressive language in order to arrive at an alternative mode of clarified communication. By presenting an alternative mode it attempts to avoid the familiar, dominant and particularly current modes and in this way might be seen as disrupting, responding to and retaliating against th e current hegemony of images as they mediate our relation to alienation and anomie. There is a potential to view the creative labor of Collage as a revolutionary or political act where the purpose is
57 to regain agency, where agency is necessarily linked to maintaining a critical position towards dominant modes. If we recall Kellner's critique of Baudrillard's neglect with respect to radical agency, we might see how a Collingwoody notion of Art Proper facilitates an art that communicates critically with regar ds to radical agency. Collage's inherent tendency to disrupt and manipulate current modes of expressive (albeit passive) language grants it a special capacity with respect to addressing radical agency in a society overwhelmed by its own alienation and ano mie. We are encouraged to think of Artists as agents in general who are recovering the possibilities of revolutionary activity in the face of passively defining the self in terms of the established hegemony of images and objects. Though the attempt at recl aiming agency is primarily made for the artist, according to Collingwood a successful work of art ought to communicate some sense of reclaimed agency for the spectator in the aesthetic experience of the piece. Active participation in the radical disruptive activity of Collage can be understood as an opportunity for or attempt at reclaiming radical agency within a society dominated by a particular system of signs. As a step towards the recovery of agency, I would go so far as to say that the activity of coll age would be a revolutionary act.
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59 July 2012. Newman, Michael. "The Image Beside the Image and the Image Within the Image: Prolegomena to an Approach to the Collages of John Stezaker." Parallax 16.2 (2010): 79 86. Print. Paolozzi, Eduardo, and Robin Spencer. Eduardo Paolozzi: Writings and Interviews Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. Print. P earson, Fiona. Paolozzi Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 1999. Print. Stezaker, John, and Andrew Warstat. "An Interview with John Stezaker." Parallax 16.2 (2010): 68 78. Print. Taylor, Brandon. Collage: The Making of Modern Art London: Thames & Hudson, 2004. Print. Walker, John Albert. Left Shift: Radical Art in 1970s Britain London: I.B. Tauris, 2002. Print. Warstat, Andrew. "Image Damage." Parallax 15.2 (2010): 1 5. Print.
60 Images Paul Citroen. Metropolis ., 1923. Collage, 29 7/8 x 23 1/4 in. (76 x 59 cm). Prentenkabinet der Rijksunversiteit, Leiden, the Netherlands. c 1997 Paul Citroen/Licensed by VAGA, New York.
61 FIG 1. Eduardo Paolozzi. [No Title]., 1967. Screenprint Collage,on Paper 15 x 10 in. (38 x 25 1/5 cm). From Moonstrip Em pire News, Tate Collection. Institute of Contemporary Prints 1975.
62 FIG. 2 Eduardo Paolozzi. [No Title]., 1967. Screenprint Collage,on Paper 15 x 10 in. (38 x 25 1/5 cm). From Moonstrip Empire News, Tate Collection. Institute of Contemporary Prints 1975.
63 John Stezaker. Tabula Rasa II 1983. Collage, 5 7/8 x 7 3/4 in. (14.9 x 19.7 cm). Rubell Family Collection
64 John Stezaker. Tabula Rasa XIII 2006. Collage, 8 x 10 inches (20.4 x 25.4 cm) Rubell Family Collection.
65 John Stezaker. Tabula Rasa X, 200 9. Collage. 20.8x24.9 cm. Rubell Family Collection.
66 Fabienne Elie. Anonymity 2012. Collage on Wood. 14 x 18 in. New College of Florida.
67 Fabienne Elie. Entrapment 2012. Digital Collage. 20 x 18 in. New College of Florida.
68 Fabienne Elie. Violenc e 2012. Digital Collage Screen printed on Paper. 20 x 18 in. New College of Florida.