Thursday, 27 February 2014
Found Text and Images
Using found text and images brings the artist into closer contact with the active world around him and in turn this world is projected on to the viewer, so that he/she gains a similar insight. It is a novel way forward for the artist to explore and introduce a reality that is in direct touch with a world that is, at the same time, both familiar and out of the ordinary. Text defines in a way that a visual does not. It is, of course, possible to be ambiguous with the written word but its explicit nature determines meaning more clearly and without going through a process of interpretation as with an image. They can be arranged as "banner headlines" or page text, reversed or turned so that they almost become images in themselves.
The nature of an image enables more interpretations to be speculated about. Just like text, images can be cropped, turned, flipped, mirrored or enhanced, even turned into 3D shapes. Both image and text can use colour or, like an old fashioned print, be more powerful in black and white. Using both image and text can produce tautologies of meaning but can also affirm ideas or reintroduce new ideas, depending on the way the images and words and used and their juxtaposition. They can be skewed therefore not only to present fresh ideas but to reinforce a message or idea. Words and phrases can be stripped of their meanings by taking them out of context and re-introducing them into hostile placements. Used in this way it is possible to play with the conventional means of perception and confuse the brain of the viewer, for example using the text "red" but colouring it in blue and so on. By this method it is also possible to question conventionally received ideas about reality, and so cause the viewer to wonder about the apparent norms that direct his thinking, in other words to see the world in a different way.
"It could be argued that the heart of Conceptual art in the late 1960s was not, as is often stated, the notion of the artwork being essentially linguistic, but rather the notion that it was simultaneously linguistic and visual. It is certainly true that the combination of text and photograph became increasingly its archetypal form" (Godfrey, pp.301-2)
The profusion of paintings, photography, digital graphics, pc generated texts in various fonts, appropriated text and images from magazines and books, advertisements, posters, etc., are all valid sources in this genre.
Ed Fella uses found text in a minimal way just using a letter or part of a word. It enables him to deduce real parts of the city by photographing small elements of city life. Jessica Bakhaus works in much the same way.
Saul Steinberg has a sense of humour in his art, intermixing real objects with hand drawn images, and uses text rather less than other artists. His style is almost cartoon-like.