What’s So Great About Collage? Daniel Gordon at WALLSPACE
Collage isn’t anything new, but it’s a common tactic in digital work. Sure, it might go by some other name like a supercut, but that’s still collage. Collage became prevalent with Cubist works–think about the bits of newspaper Braques and Picasso tacked on their sculptures–and then Weimar-era works by Hannah Hoch. The goal of early 20th century collage was fragmentation beyond recognition: to cut into commercial text and images until they lost their original significance, becoming almost indecipherable. That’s not what’s going on in Daniel Gordon’s photographs at WALLSPACE. He puts images back together after they’ve already been severed apart. This way of thinking about collage is useful for how we come across images today, when, by quickly entering any search term, millions of images and vidoes can be brought up online. It’d be postmodern ennui to take part in endless cutting up. Chopped and screwed things aren’t meaningless reuse; they synthesize diverse elements into a manageable, 3-minute track, that allows the original to recirculate.
In Gordon’s series of portraits, glue drips off his dark blue and gray palette filled with chunks of noses, eyes, and ears, that are then pasted onto swatches of pixellated TV snow. The globs of glue are subtle enough to be missed, but they definitely aren’t so over-the-top to make his figures grotesque. Throughout his portraits he creates stages, like theatre sets, with awkward, shallow perspective, making the heads seem huge when shoved into the confines of a frame. People aren’t the only subject in Gordon’s collages; his other subject is the “rotting still-life,” aka the memento mori. Sure, Gordon’s collages use simple, fairly standard motifs. What’s impressive is how he constructs succinct scenes out of a large, potentially endless archive of people, things, and pixels.