Subway Series...presents to the viewer a collection of photo-montages captured throughout the NYC Transit System. They are a visual exhibit of subway billboards where layers have been ripped and peeled away by the masses, uncovering previous ad campaigns. The resulting arrangements consist of serendipitously revealed components of visual media language used by advertisers to sell a product or idea to the public.
The ephemeral nature of these uniquely individual montages is the driving force behind the use of a smartphone camera as an immediate and valid tool to capture such chance encounters. Once recorded, the social app Instagram is used specifically as a post-production editing tool to enhance brightness, contrast and saturation of color only. What is contained within the frame and seen by the viewer is untouched physically upon capture, or through any post production manipulation of form.
The created arrangements documented within this series represent statements being made by the public at large. Whether through boredom or specific intent, they are visual reactions to the invasive presence of advertisement within our lives. The “Culture-Jamming” and Ad-Busting movements beginning in the 1990’s purposefully vandalize and/or change corporate logos within public places as a form of resistance to the influence of advertisement, globalization and mass media. Yet, the use of the billboard as an activist canvas is nothing new.
The photo-montage – sourced photographic images combined into new compositions and then photographed to create a seamless representation - has a rich tradition within the history of photography as a tool for sociopolitical statements. Artist belonging to the Dadaist movements of Europe in the 1920’s and 30’s, including Raoul Hausmann, John Hearfield and Aleksandr Rodchenko created and used photo-montage to critique political figures of the day, as well as the various social and political movements sweeping Europe at that time. Modern photographers like Robert Heinecken sourced images from pop culture and used the technique to critique both photography’s position in the art world, as well as its effect through advertisement on the broader culture.
Each image framed is an installation in itself. They are each printed 16" x 16" on multiple layers of transfer film, using a white backboard as a vehicle of illumination. Each print is installed within an 18" x 18" white window mat and frame. They are intentionally presented within the confines of a formal gallery aesthetic as a visual comment on the appropriation of ‘vandalism’ and street art within the established art institution. Well known artist like Basquiat and Keith Haring were once considered vandals perpetrating acts deemed illegal on the streets. More contemporary artists like Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada (founder of the Culture-Jamming Movement) and Banksy, whose stenciled graffiti work was once considered vandalism – are not only embraced, but are at the forefront of the Public Art Movement today.
Subway Series… strives to open up dialogue exploring ideas of ‘high art’/’low art’, the role of the art institution, sociopolitical activism/commentary versus artistic intent, and the aesthetic appreciation that takes place at these intersections.