Collage can be a metaphor for consciousness. After all, the mind is like a collage. Ephemera, glued together by an invisible Artist. The result in patterns may or might not make sense.
Some minds might be like a collage by the painter Elliott Puckette.
Others might be like a work by Raven Schlossberg:
Still others might resemble the minds of Thomas Hirschhorn and Felipe Oliveira Baptista: you never know what they’ll look like.
Hirschhorn uses collage with unconventional materials, in forms from paper to performance, from sculpture to installation. The collage above uses cardboard, paper, plastic foil, transparent adhesive tape, prints, felt pen, and highlighter.
This series maps the principles of great philosophers, with works on Spinoza, Foucault, etc.
When it comes to philosophy, I tend to zone out. In fact, when I see a title like “Foucault Map,” I’m reminded of a Gershwin lyric:
My nights were sour,
spent with Schopenhauer.
But that’s just me.
Hirschhorn’s collage take on a conventional diagram is one way of picturing the mind.
Another map of consciousness might be read in this photo of Hirschhorn’s studio. The artist’s process involves creating amid a jumble of ephemera, working instinctively, grabbing this piece, then that, then another.
Is that how we interact with our thoughts? We grab manufactured images, paste them up, making our own picture of reality. In other words, we “collage” our inner images onto people and events. In psychology, this is called projection.
(My nights were destroyed, spend with Sigmund Freud? Wait a second–Gershwin never wrote that.)
Hirschhorn seems to be exploring projection in his installation “4 Subjecters (Hostile Fire).” Paper prints are attached with brown tape to wedding dresses. He’s also done this with dresses on live models, but I like the mannekin version better. I think his point is made.
From philosophy to process to projection. Let’s take the return trip.
One place to start is with fashion. The clothes we put on, of course, can be a way of projecting an image. The dress designer is image-maker. Here’s a collage-like dress by the Portuguese designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista, who is creative director at Lacoste. He has described his designs as “playful,” using the term “neo-androgyny.”
For an installation, Baptista deconstructed the pieces of two dresses, molded them, and laid them on a two dimensional surface, displayed as an artwork. The dress loses a dimension, while the process of its construction is made more visible.
Baptista took this farther back for an installation at the International Festival of Fashion & Photography in Hyères, France. Collaborating with Alexandre de Betak, the designer created a mixed-media piece to represent the “collage” of his mind. Unlike Hirschhorn’s text-heavy Spinoza diagram or object-scattered floor, this is a Rube Goldberg contraption of video monitors and connecting wires.
Which of these images is more like how we think? Or do some people have a mind like a floor strewn with ephemera, while others have a mind like CNN’s Situation Room?
Or does each person’s mind work in multiple ways, some functional, some not, some discordant, others harmonious?
What do you think? Or how?