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Curious Frame - Issue #35 - Mixed-up Medias

Curious Frame
Curious Frame - Issue #35 - Mixed-up Medias
By Leanne Staples • Issue #35 • View online
The Covid19 pandemic has created many challenges for everyone, everywhere and so it goes, that is especially true of photographic opportunities. Many people have expressed frustration concerning this.
Early on in the pandemic when it became clear that my business as a tour guide and my street photography workshops were coming to an abrupt halt, I started exploring other things to do while impatiently waiting for it to end. Who knew how long this would be going on?
One of the things that I began doing was looking at other methods of using my photography. I have been doing abstract photography and lens-based art for quite awhile now. My curiosity also extends to creative ways to create things.
So one day I started getting into collage and I am now thoroughly addicted to it. There are so many different ways that photography can be used for artistic purposes. Collage is one of my favorites. There are many very inspiring collage artists on Instagram.
I’d love to hear from you about how you store, display or creatively use your photography. There are so many ways. Be curious and share your curiosity with us!

Curious Questions:
I wanted to try something different out in this issue. You can say that this is my method of doing a kind of questionnaire. There are no right or wrong answers and there’s only one question:
What are 3 words, possibly adjectives, that you would use to describe photography. What you think of it, what you like about it, whatever. Three words!
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Reader's Comments:
Don’t keep those thoughts to yourself. Curious Frame is about dialogue and I’d love to hear your comments or even questions or inspirations. And it’s easy. Just hit reply in your email.
Your opinions are valued. No advanced degrees or education required. The comment below is from the previous issue on Mirror, Mirror
One reader commented:
You know Leanne - Life with out photography stuck me when digital came into place - myself resisted it for years. After I studied photographic science and zone system -
Left me empty for a time in the adjustment of. For a long time just did painting. Now both.
The transition from film photography to digital is a big shift in so many ways. And painting is a real plus when shooting. I’m happy to hear that you’re doing both these days.
Another commented:
Hi Leanne, Thanks for these musings and for Curious Frame. I need thoughts that can remotely give me some inspiration because I’ve been in a sort of Covid funk for quite a while.
I agree with you about mirrors (and about Saul Leiter!) and of course mirrors can be windows, glass generally, lakes and ponds, metal sheeting, the side of a car or anything remotely reflective. Just add the right amount of light and try to avoid the gimmicky instagram moments as you suggest.
Really like the Germaine Krull image. I know nothing about her so will have to check her work out. I’m currently awaiting a book on Ruth Orkin which should arrive in the next few days which I’m really looking forward to. Best wishes
And another reader wrote:
I think photography is the definitive record of a mirror image, your eye looks and the camera reveals and records that image as if you were pointing a mirror at the scene you see! 
The photographer is the mirror of reality! It perpetuates moments reflected in images for many to see, just as Gutenberg eternalized the word so that many could read it!
Thanks for your comments and the great thing is that sharing them with others can provide inspiration to them as well or maybe even suggestions. And a special thanks to a reader in Brazil and one in Hawaii who are regular contributors here. Thank you for your well wishes.
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Mixed-up Medias
Curious Frame, Issue #35, 7 July 2021. Photo Booth photos of me circa 1980.
Curious Frame, Issue #35, 7 July 2021. Photo Booth photos of me circa 1980.
I think that I must be getting old. When I look at current photography it often leaves me feeling cold. It is often printed in very large scale and in ultra-high processing and with ultra-sharpness.
My sense is that these are ways to draw attention and to get a large sum of money for them. One of the big differences between a photo and a painting is that a painting is an original. There’s only one.
So photography has to find methods to compete with the art market. Perhaps NFTs are one possibility. I wrote about them in Issue #31. I’m not exactly a fan of them. Nevertheless, the issue always remains, how to distinguish your work.
Pablo Picasso, Guitar (1913)
Pablo Picasso, Guitar (1913)
Collage translates literally to mean to glue. There are no instructions or guidelines in collage which makes it an art that everyone can do and you can express yourself without having to follow a set of rules. Cut and paste whatever you like.
Collage easily dates back to China in 200 BCE. Throughout the centuries there were many methods used that could loosely be called collage. I won’t bore you with all of the details.
Pablo Picasso (see above image) and Georges Braque are considered to be the first two artists who used images in their paintings. They attached images to a surface that they had painted on. This is often called assemblage.
Kurt Schwitters, EN MORN, 1947. © DACS 2012. Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN / Bertrand Prévost.
Kurt Schwitters, EN MORN, 1947. © DACS 2012. Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN / Bertrand Prévost.
When talking about collage, it is the Dadaists and Surrealists that really made it a popular art form. It is also called photomontage. The following is a brief description of the Dada movement from Wikipedia.
Developed in reaction to World War I, the Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works. The art of the movement spanned visual, literary, and sound media, including collage, sound poetry, cut-up writing, and sculpture. Dadaist artists expressed their discontent toward violence, war, and nationalism, and maintained political affinities with radical left-wing and far-left politics.
Kurt Schwitters (see above image) is one of many well known collage artists. Collage and photomontage occurred during an interesting period in history and was a forerunner of the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement in art which led to handmade fanzines and other kinds of art.
Dada is also responsible for opening up the world of art to those who were not schooled. Much of art history is a representation of those who were privileged enough to have an education in art and the money to afford to devote their time to art.
untitled photomontage, New York City, 23 May 2021. This is 2 different photos of photos that are combined on computer.
untitled photomontage, New York City, 23 May 2021. This is 2 different photos of photos that are combined on computer.
Collage and photomontage are techniques that can be done with your own photos or with other found photos. They can also be made by cut and paste also called analog or through digital techniques or even a combination of the two.
I wrote about Originality and Appropriation in Issue 16 of this newsletter. Appropriation is very common in the art world. Much of Andy Warhol’s art was created through appropriation.
Wheels in Motion, New York City, December 2012.
Wheels in Motion, New York City, December 2012.
When it comes to straight ahead photography for the purposes of art, it seems that we may have exhausted much that can be done. I am also a street photographer and for me, it is an activity. It’s something that I do. It’s not about expecting to become rich or famous. It is a lifestyle and it’s one that I thoroughly enjoy.
A single still photo is limited in its ability to create a lasting impression. This is especially true since the internet and the massive overload of images. I still like my above photo almost 9 years later. Is it unique? Not really.
A multiple exposure, a photomontage or a collage has the ability of presenting more information in a more nuanced way and also creating an image that is truly unique. It is capable of containing more that a single thought.
we wander longingly, New York City, 15 June 2021. This collage is from a series title comme d'habitude and utilizes a written word piece by me that is incorporated into each image.
we wander longingly, New York City, 15 June 2021. This collage is from a series title comme d'habitude and utilizes a written word piece by me that is incorporated into each image.
In street photography, it’s about capturing what’s out there in the world in front of you. In collage and photomontage, it’s about creating your own world, about ordering the colors and shapes and the overall look and final product. You create your world.
I imagine some of you thinking that you couldn’t possibly make collages. There is of course a long list of possible reasons that you would think this. But hey, there’s another way to think about it.
I have a comfortable reading chair and a pile of magazines and newspapers to read. While reading them, I tear out everything that I like before placing the remainder in a paper recycling bag. Collage is also like a form of recycling.
Collage is also a very cool and addictive form of meditation. It is actually similar to doing jigsaw puzzles. Except you get to make the pieces fit!
Melinda Gibson, Photomontage XVII, (taken from pages 25,105, 149), (2009-2010)
Melinda Gibson, Photomontage XVII, (taken from pages 25,105, 149), (2009-2010)
I am currently researching a number of different topics that will be the subject of upcoming newsletters. I decided on alternative methods to use photography, collage and photomontage, would be a good one after stumbling on an article about the photographer, Melinda Gibson.
I have on my coffee table stacks of magazines and books and virtually no room for coffee. I picked up a copy of the British Journal of Photography from October 2011. That is where I found an article titled The Photograph as Contemporary Art.
The article is about a series of photomontages that Gibson made. She graduated with a degree in Photography from the London College of Communication in 2006 and realized that most contemporary photography is missing something that differentiates it.
Melinda Gibson, Photomontage XIX, (taken from pages 128, 179,192), (2009-2010)
Melinda Gibson, Photomontage XIX, (taken from pages 128, 179,192), (2009-2010)
I wanted to produce a body of work that was original - unique pieces unable to be reproduced - which in turn, commented on the availability of photography in our heightened digitalised age.
Yes, this is a very common complaint. That brings us back to the opening of this issue. Is there anything new under the sun when it comes to photography?
Gibson’s methodology is very interesting. She dismantled a book titled The Photograph as Contemporary Art, written and edited by Charlotte Cotton and made the photomontages using only the images in the book. In fact, she used 5 books to make them.
I mention her and her work as one more signal of the state of photography. I have nothing against mobile phone photography, but I don’t do it and I’d actually rather not know if a photo was taken with a phone. But I also don’t care what brand of camera you use either.
Don’t even get me started about drones. I think that they’re creepy and I’ve not seen any photos worthy of mention taken with them.
the smooth textures, New York City, 5 June 2021. This collage is from a series title comme d'habitude and utilizes a written word piece by me that is incorporated into each image.
the smooth textures, New York City, 5 June 2021. This collage is from a series title comme d'habitude and utilizes a written word piece by me that is incorporated into each image.
I haven’t quite street photography. Far from it. And with pandemic restrictions being lifted in New York City, I’ve been working quite a bit more with workshops.
But it’s good to have other ways that you can work with photography for those days when you aren’t able to go out shooting.
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Sharing is Cool! If you’ve been forwarded this email or are reading online, consider joining the dialogue by subscribing. If you are looking for past issues you can find them all in the archive at the link below.
BTW you can give this newsletter a thumbs up or down at the end and you can also share it on social media to Twitter or Facebook.
Curious Frame | Revue
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Further viewing:
Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage
Dada, Kurt Schwitters & The Ursonate
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You can also find me at:
Skirting the Edges - Leanne Staples
Artist, Photographer & Writer - Leanne Staples
Walking Photo Tours & Street Photography Workshops in New York City
Did you enjoy this issue?
Leanne Staples

In a world that is overpopulated with images, Curious Frame is where I share my thoughts on photography. It is always about ‘seeing with new eyes’.

I’m Leanne Staples, a photographer, artist, and writer living in New York City. Street photography and lens-based art are my passions, and Curious Frame is where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on these passions.

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