Collage in an Age of Impermance

Collage in an Age of Impermance

Dear Team:

As you all know the Pound is soaring. let's hope it keeps soaring ALL month. Then we switch and short....

I have discussed the avante garde roots of Harvest and my work in general in the last few weeks. But today I want to discuss one particular avante garde technique that is dear to me and my " metier. " This of course is COLLAGE. It is the pre-eminent 20th century technique in literature, music, and painting. I want to go deeper into this important subject now.

Collage is about putting images together that don't always harmonize, yet somehow work together. It's about a balance of elements which are individual and fresh yet are in a kind of critical tension. This tension to my mind can be dynamic, asymmetric, amd limitless. This technique allows one to discover ones own originality through a series of self-imposed detours. It also forces the viewer of the art piece to work harder and become more involved in the artistic process.

Collage has a strong experimental impulse. It's about juxtapositions with things getting together without apparent connection. It's about the breakdown of linear, sequential, cause and effect thinking. Are you listening Cecile? It's about evrything ALL AT ONCE. Information brushing information. This has a strange way of creating real objects instead of imitations of objects. Yo can tightly order the elements of a collage or you can let the elements be themselves or become themselves. Harvest's verbal collages create an effect that's real and visceral. Peopel feel they are experiencing something real and not an imitation of something.

The avante garde artists of both waves began to understand this new kind of artitic alchemy. It was important to collaborate with the materials and not order them around. Collage became a perpetual adventure. prose/poetry is indeed a powerful form of verbal collage. It is the back-bone of my work. Collage allows the new species/objects created in the collage process to suggest new possibilities and unthought of combinations. Often there is resistence coming from these new objects which can be very useful. It's a process which centers on probing and testing mind boundaries.

Harvest has heavy collage chance elements like the avant garde painting of the 1960's in New York. But there is also a framework. The artist Robert Rauschenberg pioneered an " embrace all " form of collage which fused painting with sculpture. Raushenberg's art didn't recognize categories of the beautiful or the ugly. It was just interested in what was there. I agree with this approach and liketo add mind levels that can't be seen, but that are influencing the enviornment in powerful ways.

Marcel Duchamp, probably the biggest rival to Picasso in the avante garde hall of fame understood the power of collage in avery subtle way. For Duchamp placing an object out of one slot and placing it into another was a way of creating a new thought for the object. It was about stretchingthe laws of nature and the relationship between artist and onlooker. Dada, abstract expresionism and pop art all explore this vital and poorly understood process. It's about blurring the line between art and life. Duchamp was challenging seven hundred years of high European art.

Rauschenberg created series of " combines. " Sculpture and painting were united. Poetry/prose is a kind of series of verbal combines too. Joyce did all kinds of verbal combining. The last chapter of Harvest has prose, poetry, screen-writing, choruses, and other verbal devices which make this chapter like a grand verbal sculpture which hints of an entire new kind of book. That's Harvest volume four.

Verbal combine art creates not just writings, but also literary enviornment. Forty Immutable Parables adds pictures to this verbal combine. The 20th century has been a time of disorientation and changeThe events of 9/11 are continuing this process and the media event that came out of this trauma has collage elements that have barely been understood by both artists and the general public. My short stories from Sausalito began to explore this new unknown terrain.

The avante garde waves began to reject the machine nature of western civilization and tried to create a vision of a machine rejecting this machine nature in order to just becme sheer humor and poetry. Picasso started the collage process in 1912 and Duchamp pushed it to the point of destruction in the 1960's. Duchamp intuitively understood that " strategic displacement " was the key to all modern art and that this radical process of psychic realignment was now life itself.

In America modern artists began abandoning the natural world for an abstract one. The visual world had been radically altered by the mass media and it was now worth the attention of artists. The modern world was filled with a proliferation of mass-produced objects intended for tempory use and rapid obsolescence. This was the message of pop art. Today this trend is now accelerating in the cyber world we all have been suddenly sucked into, but it is images that are going through a massive form of re-cycling. Nobody understands where this is taking us. Least of all artists who still havn't fully tackled this latest challenge.

In the 1960's pop artists reflected the flood of information that was spilling over the landscape. The overload in the psychic ecology was now becoming more visible. The subconscious of the planet was rising quickly from murky depths and the white stress this was generating forced the pop artists to find new meanings in this deluge of semantic noise. Indeed mining meaning from this mind noise is becomming a 24 hour business and it's fraught with all kinds of dead-ends and obstacles. The idea of collaborating with all the disorder around oneself and exploring the gap between art and life is the new game in town since the 1960's.

Jasper Johns was an expert at exploring this gap between reality and illusion. The ambiguity between reality and illusion. Reality was being now assassinated on a regular basis. It was critical to dispense all fixed positions and move at will in an expanding field of human awareness. Jean-Luc Godard took his cue from all these new American rumblings. Maximum tension between collage elements always led to new discoveries. The collage materials could never be wrong. It was the endless interpretation that could be hazerdous.

Duchamp saw art as a piece of life itself. There were no more boundaries. It was all about passages from one mind state to another. It was a re-carnation of materials and ideas as art and life became a massive recycling process. Picasso started this process and stripped everything from any landcsape he saw in a bid towards seeing the underlying structure of any landscape. An underlying structure that was impermanent yet also extremely primal. It was a shamanic vision that broke into non-sensate realms. To see this invisible world the material world had to be broken apart. Light was cast into obscure regions using new colors, forms, images, and symbols.

The avante garde ethos in both music, painting, and literature was about picking up sound, word, and visual fragments from the ruins of western industrial civilization and combining them in newand alien ways. We are living in a world of accelerating noise, both verbal, acoustical, and visual which has created a transient, fluid, and violent kind of enviornment. Collage and displacement is the method of choice in this new sea of conceptual and sensual noise. Out of this noise a new mandala will be created for a new civilization. We are still at the begining of this difficult process.

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