Early examples of my photomontage work
I recall the first examples of photomontage by Soviet Constructivists that I came across and how their simplicity in form and colour as well as how powerful they were. As the messages contained within the posters were heralding a new dawn of hope for the future. Celebrating great technological and sociological events of the age, these new forms of graph design were as dynamic as they were groundbreaking.
Whilst in Western and Central Europe Photomontage was still very much on the fringes of the Avant-Garde, in the burgeoning Soviets Republics they were much in the mainstream. Not only because they challenged the old visual order, but also because the population’s literacy rates at the time were so low.
Let‘s fulfill the plan of great work. Moscow, Leningrad, 1930, G. Klulsis.
Lenin and electrification, Shass-Kobelev, 1925
Tempo, Tempo, Marianne Brandt. Brandt of the Bauhaus School challenged perceptions around gender and work.
These early pioneers went on to ignite the imagination and creativity of so many photographers and artists, myself included. Such is the proliferation of photomontage that a simple Pinterest search delivers a mass of inspiration.
Pinterest Screen Shot
For this particular exercise, I chose to run with contemporary political themes, BREXIT, Gun Control and address the rise in Vegan populist news stories.
BREXIT Shambles. Ben Skipper 2019. Created using Photoshop and deliberately echoing the ransom note style.
This image gave the opportunity to mix self-taken imagery with some pre-existing and well-known imagery. I wanted to show what an absolute farce BREXIT had become, how the whole process has progressed from a political vanity project to a politically impassable mess.
The main background image was taken a few years ago of a Big Issue seller in Lincoln cleaning spoons he found. The cover of the magazine is as apt then as it is now. Over this, I laid an opaque image of the EU flag as part of the overall tableau.
The other image I took is of the gentleman sitting on the ‘S’, he was counting food coupons at the time. I isolated him from the background image below using the Magnetic Lasso tool and then creating a separate JPEG layer allowing me to position the man in a predominant position.
I then sourced a range of key political imagery that existing around BREXIT, including the now-infamous BREXIT bus and David Cameron, both isolated from their background image below using the Magnetic Lasso tool and then creating a separate JPEG layer.
Above these were positioned flying pigs, sourced from a PNG royalty-free library. I shall let their presence speak for itself. The now-iconic image of the European Research Group (ERG) with their heads in their hands has become synonymous with the issue being commented upon and work for all sides on a range of levels from hopelessness to frustration to apathy.
Aside from the obvious message, the BREXIT Shambles text was influenced by a range of sources, but the design was chosen for two distinct reasons. The first it echoed the atypical ransom note, a reference to how both sides of the BREXIT argument feel that their wishes are being held.
The second is the format in which letters are presented as being deliberately cut from Tabloid newspaper headlines and names, whose reportage has been less than accurate at times [sic].
In God We Trust
In God We Trust Ben Skipper 2019
This montage was very much an almost instantaneous reaction to recent events in the US. From the seemingly endless fatal incidents with firearms to the almost constant, inflammatory and mindless vitriol spouted by President Trump. His is a presidency that has become a mirror of contemporary America.
His almost fanatical support for the firearms lobby combined with anti-immigration policies have created a fractured America. A country once united by their shared belief in God (which one of the 5000 such deities I’m not sure) has become increasingly fragmented and isolationist.
I deliberately sought an image of enraged Trump, which seems to be his default oratory method, the gun acting as a microphone for his words of anger. Behind him two samples of how his presidency is viewed, one by the New York Post the other by the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror.
The image below the NY Post is of Rioters in Washington, D.C., on his Inauguration Day, whilst below Sri Lankan Daily Mirror is a Border Camp image by Sergio Flores echoing Trump’s new form of Nationalism. Both images have been chosen to echo the headlines above and to show how fractures the Super Power has become.
His inactivity, or disinterest, in dealing with escalating domestic gun violence has made him something of a gun lobby darling with many seeing his stance as aiding the message of the NRA.
Finally, the combined background of the Stars and Stripes and the Dollar Bill are used to reflect Trump’s political character, one drive my intense nationalistic pride and Avarice.
Fake News – Populism and Reality
Fake News Stamp. Ben Skipper 2019
Bovines of Death? Ben Skipper 2019
From Science Focus:
From Science Focus: How many cars equal the CO2 emissions of one plane?
‘A Boeing 747 uses 7840kg of aviation fuel for the take-off, climb and descent portions of the flight and these account for about 250km. For journeys longer than that, the plane will use 10.1kg for each additional kilometre under typical cruising conditions. So to fly from Heathrow to Edinburgh (530km) uses 10,668kg of fuel, which releases a little over 33 tonnes of CO2.
‘Whereas a Ford Mondeo 1.8 TDCi emits 151g of CO2 per km and covers 650km to reach Edinburgh. That works out to be 98kg for a single passenger, compared to 79kg per person for the Jumbo, assuming it carries its full complement of 416 passengers. But you could drive 336 cars to Edinburgh for the same CO2 as one plane’. Carla Pearce
From Springer Link:
‘Methane (CH4) is one of the trace gases in the atmosphere that is considered to play a major role in what is called the “greenhouse effect.” There are six major sources of atmospheric methane: emission from anaerobic decomposition in (1) natural wetlands; (2) paddy rice fields; (3) emission from livestock production systems (including intrinsic fermentation and animal waste); (4) biomass burning (including forest fires, charcoal combustion, and firewood burning); (5) anaerobic decomposition of organic waste in landfills; and (6) fossil methane emission during the exploration and transport of fossil fuels. Obviously, human activities play a major role in increasing methane emissions from most of these sources. Especially the worldwide expansion of paddy rice cultivation, livestock production and fossil fuel exploration have increased the methane concentration in the atmosphere. Several data sets help estimate atmospheric methane concentration up to 160,000 years back. Major sources and sinks of present-day methane emission and their relative contribution to the global methane balance demonstrate great uncertainties in the identification and quantification of individual sources and sinks. Most recent methane projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for 2025 and 2100 are discussed and used to estimate the contribution of population growth to future methane emission. Finally the paper discusses options and restrictions of reducing anthropogenic methane emissions to the atmosphere’. Gerhard K. Heilig
From Time for Change Are cows the cause of global warming?:
‘The most important conclusion for ourselves is: Eat much less meat and dairy products. This is one of the most effective ways to reduce our personal carbon footprint and to generally reduce our personal negative impact on the environment’.
Response to the above: ‘When managed intensively, the “standard grazing unit”, a 1000 pound cow can capture and store the equivalent of 3 tons of CO2 per year, three times as much as the equivalent methane she produces’.
According to Martina Chapman (Media Literacy Expert), there are three elements to fake news; ‘Mistrust, misinformation and manipulation’.
This image is a response to the recent, almost militant assault on farming, in particular, livestock husbandry, that has taken certain scientific facts and highlighted some whilst ignoring others.
It features a self-taken still of Cows, which has been layer with the background converted to Black and White, while the cows have been isolated with the Magnetic Lasso Too. They have retained their colour, so as to be a focal point, and been placed as a layer between the Fake News stamp, made in Photoshop, and the background.
The skull and crossbones, signifying death and the methane molecules rising from the herd tipping a wink to the spurious claims that cows are responsible, and by extension farming in general, is responsible for Global Warming, the Fake News element of the piece.
I deliberately kept the message and image as visually simple as possible allowing the elements to spur the viewer to consider the message much like the work of John Heartfield.
The act of photomontage is not only an opportunity to tell a story, make a statement or protest, it is also the opportunity to change the context of an image. To change a moment of innocent inactivity into something powerful is a great challenge and can be a creative panacea.
In approaching my three themes I have utilised not only photography but also graphic art and type, echoing the work of early Soviet Weimar practitioners and influences. By merging all three elements I feel I have been true to the exercise theme and also developed my own creativity. Image Reserach has been not only beneficial but great fun too.
In using the magnetic loop tool within Photoshop, as well as the utilising the program for font design has allowed me to be more comfortable and creative in my approach to the task.
Overall a great exercise in creativity, research and DTP use. Photomontage is a genre I have always been drawn to and I hope to continue to utilise it as a medium.
Let‘s fulfill the plan of great work. Moscow, Leningrad 1930. G. Klulsis. Available at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/106251732/sovet-constructivist-posters-lets
Lenin and electrification Shass-Kobelev 1925. Available at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/153703442/soviet-poster-ussr-ussr-propaganda?item_group_id=PG_153703442
Tempo, Tempo, Marianne Brandt. Available at: https://www.icp.org/exhibitions/tempo-tempo-the-bauhaus-photomontages-of-marianne-brandt
Heads in hands. The Guardian available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/12/brexit-great-why-boris-johnson-jacob-rees-mogg-peter-bone-sad#img-1
Theresa May available at: https://briefingsforbrexit.com/may-renegotiating-the-withdrawal-agreement/
Brexit Bus available at: https://www.thedailymash.co.uk/politics/politics-headlines/guilt-ridden-brexit-bus-in-self-destructive-shame-spiral-20180805175990
EU Flag available at: https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/more-disabled-people-add-their-voices-to-brexit-opposition/
David Cameron available at: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/david-camerons-full-speech-conservative-6589711
Flying Pig available at: https://imgbin.com/png/tnHBnQip/flying-pig-png
US Flag available at: https://www.military.com/flag-day/us-flag-code.html
Trump available at: http://www.financetwitter.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/
M16 available at: https://machinegunamericaorlando.com/gun_types/machine-guns/
NRA Logo available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Rifle_Association#/media/File:National_Rifle_Association_official_logo.svg
In God we trust available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_God_We_Trust
Daniel Rohrbough available at: https://metro.co.uk/2019/04/20/remembering-the-13-victims-of-columbine-high-school-massacre-20-years-on-9228117/
Sri Lankan Daily Mirror available at: http://www.dailymirror.lk/print/opinion/Donald-Trump-the-nationalist-messiah-from-the-Wild-West/172-119764
NY Post available at: https://nypost.com/2019/08/04/the-post-says-ban-assault-weapons-now/
Microphone head available at: https://www.gear4music.com/Recording-and-Computers/Shure-A58WS-Foam-Windscreen-for-Ball-Type-Microphone-Black/PD0?origin=product-ads&utm_campaign=PLA+Shop+-+Shure&utm_medium=vertical_search&network=google&adgroup=2+-+Brand+Level+-+Shure&merchant_id=1279443&product_id=32868d1&product_country=GB&product_partition_id=84412766959&gclid=Cj0KCQjw2K3rBRDiARIsAOFSW_4Z6GmqBj5Gs4ezcAK69FX42zzfP_zeAX_pWv7DaRygH5p2UenWdfYaAt2WEALw_wcB
Border Camp Image Sergio Flores for The Washington Post/Getty Images available at: https://www.gq.com/story/us-border-concentration-camps
Rioters in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day (Photo: Sara L. Voisin/Washington Post/Getty Images) available at: https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/06/antifa-protest-donald-trump-roots-left-wing-political-violence/
Skull and Cross Bones available at: https://www.cleanpng.com/png-skull-and-bones-skull-and-crossbones-human-skull-s-4559270/
Methane Structure available at: https://www.pinclipart.com/pindetail/JbmJo_methane-molecule-structure-atom-chemical-compound-methane-ball/
Pinterest Screen Shot available at: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/search/pins/?q=photomontage&rs=typed&term_meta=photomontage%7Ctyped
Science Focus: How many cars equal the CO2 emissions of one plane? Available at:https://www.sciencefocus.com/future-technology/how-many-cars-equal-the-co2-emissions-of-one-plane/
The Greenhouse Gas Methane (CH4) Abstract, Gerhard K. Heilig, Nov 1994, Springer Link. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02208779
Are cows the cause of global warming? Time for Change, 2008. Available at:https://timeforchange.org/are-cows-cause-of-global-warming-meat-methane-CO2
Explained: What is Fake News? Available at: https://www.webwise.ie/teachers/what-is-fake-news/