Sunday, June 11, 2023

The new collage


As you probably noticed, my main concern here this past week has been with a new generative AI editing process available in Photoshop. This has allowed me to work imagery into my existing photographs to produce sometimes magical, sometimes frustrating results. There are two qualities to this that make it particularly compelling to me: One is this sense of gambling. Failure and magic lurk around every corner, and I find this terribly engaging in art. The second is a strange sense of collage work while working in this idiom. I have always loved collage work, and this kind of piecing together imagery, bit by bit until it works, is immensely satisfying to me. 

When I was first in art school I would go to Point Reyes National Seashore and collect old bottles, stones, seaweed, crab claws, and feathers, and then assemble them into slightly bizarre, and to me, lovely, bouquets. At times I would have sprawling, yet organized collections of found items spread out over my Oakland living room (sometimes to the consternation of my roommates!). I don't believe I submitted any of the finished items to any of my art classes. But I'm sure I was fascinated with the results and consumed at times by the process.

And so I am now.

So far you have seen more finished, articulate collections of this image making, but I have been experimenting a lot with the possibilities in this technique, and now I want to show you my strays, so to speak. I wouldn't bring them to clerkmanifesto if I didn't feel there was interest to be found in them, but also showing them here is a way to finish them and move on from these particular pictures.

This first one is from out beyond the front desk of my library. It involves a separately generated cat in a jar. As much as I am all about the over the top imagery, it is perhaps the more subtle introductions in this image the belie the power of this tool, like the fireplace on the right wall for instance.

This is Dan, a co-worker who has featured many times here before largely because of his open permissions and willingness to model. I put him in a tuxedo and it trimmed him up quite a bit. The clowns and circus animals and marble floor are all present for reasons you must divine on your own. There are no wrong answers. And probably no right ones either.

Out by the antenna tower I saw the turkey flock! It was a great place to see them, and they let me get very close. Alas that I did not have my proper zooming camera with me! But even with that camera I can never get pictures that give a feeling of the flock as I experience it. Their loose unity is so essential to them, but is always too spread out for it to function in a picture, at least according to my talents. So in this picture I tried to recreate the crowd of turkey, albeit without great success. Two or three of the turkeys are native to the picture, the rest are invented. As are the coyotes, and the mountains, because I couldn't really leave well enough alone, and why should I?

This final picture is a bit of The ship of Theseus scenario, the Greek paradox where we question the nature of a ship that little by little has been replaced in its repairs over time, so that none of the original ship is left in it. Is it the same ship? 

Here I have taken a picture of one of my favorite local houses, and, trying to extract some of its fairytale charm, have pretty much replaced every part of it. I like this picture probably best of today's, but there is a part of me that is inclined to come to the conclusion that the best use of this technology is simply to add cats to every single picture everywhere.

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