Introduction to Digital Imaging: Week 9

Organic Beauty by Kassandra O'Shea (2018)

In week nine of Introduction to Digital Imaging I focussed on completing Assessment #2: Photomontage.

Assignment 2

Assignment #2 for Introduction to Digital Imaging requires the creation of two composites created in Photoshop. These composites must combine 5 (or more) photographs and use 10 or more photoshop techniques. They must focus on sending a clear political, environmental, cultural or social context in the technique of photomontage.

The brief

The aim of this assignment is to produce two images in the style of Photomontage while demonstrating further technical skills you have acquired. The assignment requires a totally different approach to assignment one. In this instance, you need to create images that are not visually possible, but are instead clearly made from bits of different images. … No reader of the image will think it is a true photographic record (they will assume a level of fictitiousness), but the aim is for the viewer to be able to read, analyse and understand your message. (Charles Sturt University 2018)

Research

I began the process of assignment #2 with research into photomontage to develop a deeper understanding of the technique and historical importance. Like assignment #1, research has provided me with further insight into the digital imaging practices of pictorialism and photomontage.

Photomontage

Photomontage is the compilation of photographs which are formed into collages and frequently used in a political context (Tate 2018). The origins of photomontage began alongside the process of photography and photo manipulation with techniques such as direct printing, double exposure, and cut and paste. It was not until after World War I when the Dadaists devised the word Photomontage which employed photography and visual media (Dawn 1976). Photomontage evolved through design and printing techniques and entered the computer age with the assistance of programs such as Adobe Photoshop (Estorick Collection 2008).

Photomontage Artists

Remember Composition

As a refresher to photography composition, I viewed Digital Photography Composition for Dummies Cheat Sheet as well as the following helpful infographics.


Inspiration

To gather inspiration for assignment #2, I created a Pinterest gallery where I collected photomontages from a variety of artists and looked pointedly at those which posed a social, political, cultural or environmental question.


Ideation

Ideation is how I generate ideas and decide on two chosen concepts. The process involves mind mapping, examination of selected approaches and picking photographs to be used in the final composites.

MIND MAP

I created a mind map that explored four focal areas; political, environmental, cultural and social issues.

Digital Imaging Assessment 2: Mind Map of political, environmental, cultural and social issues
Digital Imaging Assessment 2: Mind Map of political, environmental, cultural and social issues

Concept Ideas

Using the mind map as an inspiration, I generated six concept ideas that cover political, environmental, social and cultural issues.

  1. Gun violence in schools
    Why do the children have to die? A look at the tragedy of school shootings and the loss of innocent children. The imagery could include a classroom setting with the students replaced as bullets.
  2. Women’s Rights
    A look at equality for women in today’s world and the challenges that are faced to build an equal future. The imagery could include protesting, female figures, male figures, historical references and political figures.
  3. Privacy
    Are we merely data that deserves no protection? A look at personal privacy in a digital age where what we share publically or privately is collected and stored. The imagery could include a phone, political figures, wires, connection, large figures watching or a person peering over a shoulder.
  4. Plastic Bags
    Does convenience matter more than worrying about the problem? A look at the damage that is caused by plastic bags on the environment. The imagery could include plastic bags, animals and a landscape which show the transformation into a polluted and hazardous area.
  5. Corruption
    Can we trust those we have chosen to represent us? A look at the way political figures abuse their power, mislead the public and lead with lies and deceit. The imagery could include political leaders enlarged against a crowd which is demanding justice but going unheard (ears blocked with headphones or something else).
  6. Media
    Will you tell me how to be beautiful? A look at the way media is used to portray beauty standards which are manipulated and unrealistic. There is irony in Photoshop being used to send the message. The imagery could include a female figure cut in half with one side ‘normal’ and the other modified with pieces of other figures to build the ‘perfect woman’. There is also a connection to photomontages created by artists such as Hannah Höch and Eugenia Loli.

SELECTED CONCEPTS

Concept 1: Innocent Targets

Focussing on gun violence in schools, concept 1 presents the dark reality of the innocent victims that are affected by school shootings, specifically in the United States.

Concept 2: Organic Beauty

Drawing inspiration from artists such as Hannah Höch and Eugenia Loli, concept 2 examines the media and the way the female form is presented in magazines and advertising, often in manipulated and ‘photoshopped’ imagery.

Photographs

To source the photography that I would use in my compositions I searched on the website unsplash.com which provides an extraordinary range of imagery that is allowed for personal and commercial use.

Concept 1
Concept 2: Organic Beauty

Development

Concept 1: Innocent Targets

Composite 2 was constructed by working with the photograph of the school and incorporating the figure of the child with the target pinned to their back and the US flag. I decided to create a subtle influence of photomontage by outlining the child and leaving a lot of the elements in a realistic form.

Rationale

Innocent Targets is influenced by the social and political issue of gun violence in schools. The intention was to create a compelling and emotional connection with an isolated child placed in front of a school with a target on their back, the innocent victim of unjust violence.

Concept 2: Organic Beauty

Composite 2 was constructed by working with the magazine in the first image and removing the cover. I placed the mannequin within the spread and used the torn paper as selections that were placed over facial features and the photographs of females masked on the paper selections. I chose to focus on a minimal use of manipulation.

Rationale

Organic Beauty is a photomontage constructed to reflect the way media and advertising convey women in an unrealistic and fabricated fashion. The composition consists of a magazine cover featuring a female figure formed from a mannequin and incorporating human elements. The intention is to highlight the manipulation of the female form and how susceptible society is to accept ‘perfection’. Artists such as Hannah Höch and Eugenia Loli were an inspiration in the creation of this work.


Final Compositions

Concept 1: Innocent Targets

Innocent Targets by Kassandra O'Shea (2018)
Innocent Targets by Kassandra O’Shea (2018)

Concept 2: Organic Beauty

Organic Beauty by Kassandra O'Shea (2018)
Organic Beauty by Kassandra O’Shea (2018)