in an Age of Impermance
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
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
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
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.