This series riffs on the comedy skit where Nazi officers contemplate their righteous mission, after realizing that their insignia contains skulls. 4 core pieces exist in this series, space helmets from the Mercury mission, a red soviet star, emblems from the American forces in Vietnam and pieces of modern art. While the space race was mainly a cover for developing sophisticated intercontinental targeting and rocket systems, the illegal and deeply unethical war in Vietnam was being fought by an array of men wearing skulls as their insignia. People back home were being entertained by the largely vacuous stupidity of modern art, while the soviets were winning hand over fist every first achievement in space, save for that global phenomenon, the Michael Jackson moonwalk.
Working in black gray and white was something that I left until I felt satisfied with some competence in working with colours. Producing in black gray and white was freeing and fun, with more attention focused on lines, shapes and balance and less on tone. No themes were considered at the start of the series, but by the end it seemed to all hang together along the stuff I tend to read and think about. Idiot’s idiotic ideologies, and general bullshittery.
My earlier work was rejected by the Saskatoon Public Library gallery, citing reasons of no thematic cohesion. To appease the sensibilities of the key holders to public exhibition, this was the first series made in service of a theme. Totalitarianism seems to creep in these days. Not through fast political seizures of the old, but through a long slow process of marketing and mass mind control. The methods for large scale mass mind control are in the unprecedented historical volumes of images, convincing people in the value of worthless commodities at the expense of lives elsewhere. This print media is used in the 8 collages to present ideas on modern totalitarianism, as informed by Wolin and Arendt. Mass surveillance (market research), charismatic leaders (pop icons), dissemination of propaganda (corporate news) and mass murder (war on terror).
The previous UFO series allowed the production of collage shapes, without restriction by the rectangular border of the canvas. Because print media is largely produced on rectangles, this seems to bend the will of the collage to the rectangle. Again moving away from rectangular restriction, this series presents a shape upon a mostly disengaged background. A series of newsprint covers used as the underlay serve to obscure the outline and detail of the shape. All shapes have thematically linked elements, relating humanity to wildlife, food, and synthetic materials. The paper underlay has fissures where non human elements are papered over. The volume of information obscuring our own identity and that of the non-human world.
These images were produced as Christmas gifts for friends, family and foes. At 5×7 they are the smallest produced so far, and with a restriction on using only 3-4 elements, technically they are the simplest. An interesting internal debate always exists when producing collages, at what point does the work become more than just the slapping together of successful and striking images produced by others? Does adding elements, and increasing the complexity of the work, legitimize the image? There is a similar issue in painting, where some vehemently insist that photo realism is the highest level of the art form, and their opposition reply that the form is not much more than the robotic reproduction of the painter’s neurotic and boring existence.
In response to the contemporary discussion regarding information and disinformation, this collage series presents another view. Playing on the relationship of morality, immorality and amorality, these images illustrate the concept of ainformation, which like amorality, is the idea of the absence of information. Each image presents, at first glance, some sort of rubric where a meaning may seem to be hidden. Series of symbols, images and charts present a point of view that is non existent across the series. Patterns seemingly emerge, linking the 8 collages, perhaps giving understanding. However, the information is not correct or incorrect, its simply not there. And while you are busy decoding this nonsense, ill be over here looking through your stuff.
These collages were built with a focus on creating the central shape. It was a first movement away from trying to fill in the full area of the canvas. The underlay was chosen to contrast the colour shapes. These background photos were from a govt commissioned aerial mapping of the Canadian land mass. Some additional elements are added to give a sense of cryptic mystery, playing on the imagined UFO scenario.