Firstly I want to apologize if this assessment seems to ramble too much, in retrospect this project is making me think of a whole new area of subject matter in which to operate in and it all seems a little overwhelming at times. So essentially, I developed this project with the thought that I have never created a work/project with any sort of political connection – no matter how vague – and I feel that this project, with it centering on appropriation would be a perfect opportunity to work with this subject area.
So I think I wanted to work with “political” images as a way to break some of my nerves of working with or showing any sort of political leaning, especially as this is an area that I have little knowledge in. Of course I also wanted to bring my own sort of “language” and own version of mythology to these political images, which I think worked to make myself feel more comfortable with the whole process. Basically, the initial thoughts I had behind this project were the following: “What do these ‘political’ leaders really do at these meetings that they have?” and “Where do these people really get their power from?” and finally “What does these people look like in my own version of the world?”
With these thoughts in mind I started to gather imagery that I thought reflected the opposite kind of culture and thoughts of the subjects of the photographs. So in terms of the image depicting Karl Marx, my goal was to depict him as more of a shaman, someone who has these hidden and eerie, mysterious powers over people, then depicting him as a political theorist. The added imagery was used to express my own feelings as to how he was really operating – through natural mysticism and powders and animal powers. And in terms of the image of Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill, I wanted to show the meeting as more a meeting of various sorcerers then leading Western powers. The realization I had was that in this world I am working to realize, all the political leaders do not lead or come to power through striving for a brighter future, but instead come to power through much older powers and devices.
Honestly, the major learning curve I was dealing with in this project was reestablishing my knowledge with Photoshop. As it had been some time since I had last used this program extensively, I had to relearn how to make the multiple source images I was using fit together seamlessly and that cause a little frustration at first, but I think that for the majority of these works, I was successful at bringing my imagery together. Of course as the creator behind these works there are areas that stand out to me as areas that do not look as well connected/ seamlessly integrated. However, I feel that this has to do, in some part, with the fact that I was working solely with images found from Wikimedia Commons and as such I was limited in exactly how perfect the images came together through limitations in image and pixel size. However, I do feel that some of the tools that I used in Photoshop (drop shadows, contrast changes and image transformation) really helped to create the look I was going for – the “real” pictures of all these supposedly well know political figures.
As I was working on this project the main way that I kept interested in what was going on with my images was by taking time with each piece. I would work solely on the Stalin/Roosevelt/Churchill piece for a few hours and then the next work time I would spend on the Marx image. I think this bouncing between pieces kept me more invested and kept my interest up in both works – I feel that if I had only work on one image for several days I would have begun to loose sight of what was going on in the piece – I would have stopped getting a feel for the myth I was crafting behind these figures. However, the simultaneous creation of both images allowed for each one to have a proper, strong development and gave myself the proper amount of time to work on all aspects of the pieces.
This being the first time I have explicitly worked with any form of politics in my work, I think that it is interesting to think of how these images look to an outsider. Thinking from the perspective of a viewer, I think that they would initially assume that I am trying to make these political leaders look ridiculous or that I was trying to contrast them to the other imagery that I incorporated into the pieces. Even if the viewers think this is the case – I feel as if I have succeeded to some extent in my want to establish these images as documents of a different version of how these leaders supposedly really act.
As a viewer i think that I would really pick up on the contrast between the black and white background photograph and the color-collaged imagery. These differences would really stand out as highlighting the ridiculousness of the scene/situation the viewer is looking at and detract some from the noble-like quality of the photograph’s subjects – which is something I was going for, I think, with these two images. However, at the same time, these differences in color and contrast make the combined elements really stand out from one another – so the final pieces seem less cohesive then I intended. Especially in the Stalin/Roosevelt image, the right side of the image is so heavy with imagery and saturated color that the whole piece seems unbalanced, which really affects the potential viewing/reading of the piece by the viewer. But I feel that with the Marx piece, all of the images are more closely connected color/contrast wise that the piece is much more unified and smooth to look at.
Finally, I think that I deserve an A- on the first project. I worked hard to bring myself to explore a new subject area and at the same time bring these new subjects into my own creative domain. I think I was, for the most part, successful in this first series of experimentations and it has given me a few new ideas on how to further expand into the realm of political art – reinterpreting political documents/treaties and bringing them into my own evolving mythos.