Whoops

April 17, 2011

So when making the collage squares I kept thinking I remembered someone doing something similar but I couldn’t remember who or where I’d seen it.  Then I remembered: Asha Schecter.  Doing a great and much more sophisticated version of what I am/was up to.  So this is one of those awkward artworld moments where you have to decide whether to scuttle your work because it looks too much like someone else’s or whether there’s enough difference there to make it okay that you unwittingly copied someone else’s idea.  This is sort of moot because there are zero shows coming up so no chance to exhibit this stuff anyway (what’s under this would be 20×20″ squares) but there’s always the future, and whatever might happen then.

So that’s the main question, and I think my work looks different enough from Schecter’s to pass on the grounds that it’s all digital and that it’s all photos I took and not photos I’ve collected, if (from what I can gather) that is what he does.  It’s also distinct because of the repetition of the gray and the square shape.  Mostly I’m thinking it’s not too much of a copy because the actual look of it is different, and because I’m not worried thanks to having no way to show work right now and what I’m doing may lead somewhere more original.

But the other main question is whether “a cluster of small photographs on a plain surface” is specific enough aesthetic territory for any one artist to claim.  I’m thinking probably not, because what we’re talking about is collage, basically, and the list of names of 2D artists alone who employed collage during the 20th/21st centuries would fill a ream of paper, probably.  I could be wrong on this, though.  So it’s a question of how generic a form can be before it becomes public domain.  I’m thinking the question turns on a long history of use by multiple people and the degree of generality of the form itself.  Thoughts?

And the appeal for me here is the standard appeal of collage: a forced semiotic read.  By arranging those photos in those squares I’m suggesting a relationship between them that could be thematic or narrative.  And some squares are more semiotically “tight” than others so there’s then the question of how to achieve that in a way unique to the vast assortment of work I have on hand.

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