I’m currently brainstorming for my next exhibition and have been looking through my previous work for inspiration. I found some photo collages that I made (one on my allotment and one at the Lake District) and I think it’s a technique I’d like to re-investigate and see if I can apply it to new subject matter. Of course these types of collages were popularised by Hockney (or as he calls them “joiners”). He has a lot of controversial views on photography, not all of which I can get behind, but I found his collages fascinating. He originally stumbled across this idea by accident in the 1980s. His dislike of wide angle lenses, and their tendency to distort the scene, was what led him to take multiple Polaroid shots and then assemble them in a grid to show the whole room he was photographing.
I’ve tried this technique several times on still life compositions and larger landscapes and it’s really effective in changing the whole perspective of a scene. Personally I find photography very absorbing and looking though a viewfinder composes the mind as well as the shot. By breaking down a large area into lots of little segments you focus more intently on them, rather than taking in the whole scene at a sweeping glance. Putting them all back together again reveals the gaps where the fragments don’t join together any more. Any slight movement when taking the shots can become more exaggerated when you try to re-assemble them. Any changes in depth of field also create a somewhat dizzying effect when over-layered on each other.
As in life, the human mind can only take in so much information at once, and when taken out of context a seemingly small element becomes magnified and loses all perspective. Grids suggest order but trying to force reality into a series of small rectangles only highlights the chaotic elements where things don’t join up.
It’ll definitely be interesting to see what kind of subject matter I can try out with this technique and what kind of effects I can create. If anybody has any suggestions then please feel free to let me know!