The Digital Picture
Made by Jessie Li
I recreated a Kurt Schwitters piece by cutting and pasting different items found around the digital world
Created: September 5th, 2016
Kurt Schwitters was a german artist born 1887 in Hanover, Germany. He worked in poetry, sound, painting, sculpture, graphic design, and installation art. His work became darker as the First World War progressed, and notably changed in 1918 while he was living through Germany's economic, political, and military collapse at the end of the World War 1. He described his collection of collages of which he was most famous for, Merz Picutres as "a revolution within me, not as it was, but as it should have been."
Kurt Schwitters made The Cherry Picture from random objects he found in the streets of Hanover, Germany, his hometown. He then glued and nailed these objects to a painted paper board. It was created in 1918 as part of the Merz Pictures, and has said that it represents how everything broke [referring to World War 1 in Germany] and new connections had to be made out of the fragments of what remains.
I selected this piece of art because I thought the way he put the objects together was interesting and different. The small parts of the board all seem to fit together cohesively and from afar; it is only when you look closely do you see the discontinuity, the randomness and bizarre nature of the objects, and the constant conversation each of the objects has with the others. It's beautiful and incoherent.
I approached the re-creation of The Cherry Picture by looking at the inspiration and purpose behind this piece of art. I saw that Schwitters was trying to represent the world he lived in (with real world objects) with art. I wanted to recreate that idea in a style similar to Schwitters'; I wanted to build a piece of art out of pieces I found around me to show an environment that I lived in. What environment am I in? Well, this an era of the digital medium.
To emulate Schwitters, I went around the digital world collecting pieces of objects I thought represented something in the digital world, and "cut and pasted" them onto a board. I wanted to make it look coherent from afar, but disjoint up close, so I utilized colors and grouped all the icons of similar color together in rough, diagonal bands across the screen, and paired it with a background that was also cohesive in color but messy upon closer inspection. And, everything I found, I put together in a way that I thought told a story about social media, the internet, and the symbols of advancement and modernity. In variation with the original piece of art, I abandoned the dark, moody feel of The Cherry Picture for the high paced, busy, fast, and bright feel of the technological advancements today.
This was put together in Photoshop (actually, Photoshop itself shows up in the piece...) to utilize the image filtering/alteration features of Photoshop.