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Bob Phillips

random harvest

Digital collage print on paper

11.5 x 14.75 inches



This digital collage print is a continuation of creative actions that were a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Forced isolation motivated me to search for a different, fresh means of artistry. I regard the complexity and chance collision of collage imagery as equivalent to poetry, whereas painting is nearer to narrative fiction or an essay. As Umberto Eco argues in The Open Work (1989), the participation of the spectator is activated by an "indefinite reserve of meanings" that are offered. Simultaneously, the fact that found and recycled images, or portions thereof, constitute all collage means that this imaginative form maintains a connection with everyday reality.

The title of this print, Random Harvest, is borrowed from the 1942 film, directed by Mervyn LeRoy, but the similarity ends there. I choose titles that are ambiguous or uncanny, that are derived from some association I locate in the clash of imagery. A "random harvest" is nearly an oxymoron, therefore contradictory and open to interpretation. The snippet of diagonally placed text (I can't recall the source) hints at some agricultural process, although it might also reference human reproduction. More importantly, I employ text as a purely visual element, apart from its denotation. Construction of the whole collage becomes a meticulous balancing act of divers parts within a seemingly serendipitous arrangement. In addition, this print was realized using only a standard word processing program, then printed on a larger scale. It's less efficient, but by carefully planning the "cut & paste," I've attained competent results.

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