In Melbourne Now we are featuring a recent body of photographic collages by local artist Christopher Day, from his Permanent Deferral series of 2013. I asked Christopher about the ideas and processes involved in making them.
MF: When we first met and looked at your images together, I was interested in the way that you described the source imagery of the photo-collages. There were piles of small darkroom and minilab prints – images, details and portraits taken from everyday life, such as cars, vegetables on a table, a pair of shoes, people – that were collected and eventually collaged together into highly abstracted images, such as the works in the Permanent Deferral series. You mentioned that you were intent that these source images, your personal photographic archive, did not start to become grouped together, to form recognisable series or themes of images. Can you please tell me more about this archive – when did you start collecting images like this – and how and why you avoid such seriality?
CD: In the past I made photographic series where I would photograph an object or situation repeatedly for many years. One like this, which became the artist book A Special Love, was photographing people interacting with specials displays in supermarkets. I took hundreds of photographs over three years which l narrowed down to just a few images I was happy with. I did many series in this way that were about how many different images I could equate using the same subject matter. It was a ridiculous way for me to work. I always felt there was one or two, or a few, better images, so why would I want to show the not-so-good ones.
Now, and for the last few years, I photograph with intent of diversity. Employing a conscious documentation of different subject matter allows me myriad possibilities of image selection to create narratives within different projects.
MF: Can you please describe the technical and conceptual process of turning the source images into the collages? Do you begin with an overall image in your mind and search for individual details within your archive in order to build it up, or is it the opposite process – that you are interested in one part of an image that then leads to the process of collage and abstraction?
CD: Mostly a collage will start from a particular photograph that already represents an idea I am looking into at that time, then I start adding information to introduce an artificial language, like a documentary would, blurring fiction and reality. So it’s an idea that I imply through adding images to establish a background of reason.
MF: Are the source materials always your own (eg. photographed by you), or do you use found images too?
CD: The images I use are all my own photographs. It’s a brilliant situation, because as I am collecting imagery to work on in my collages, I am at the same time creating a separate photographic archive that on its own is an interesting thing.
MF: I’ve read that the objects that you choose to photograph as source images are often those that resonate with your personal memories – can you please discuss this?
CD: It’s impossible for me not to adhere to things that have a history, to find links in everything. This could be from a personal experience, a comment, a part of a movie – or practically anything. Viewers may not get the reference, but hopefully they will be provoked into some thought about what is happening in the image, and to not just see it as a literal documentation of something.
MF: I’m interested in the title of this series, Permanent Deferral – it seems to suggest a feeling of endless suspension. Can you describe why you chose this title and how it relates to this series of work?
CD: We all inhabit the same place (world), but escape into different fantasies or ideas, which can build-up and feed off each-other allowing us to neglect reality or at least change our perception of it, which creates all sorts of interesting outcomes, like believing that life on earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials or a life-long absorption into first edition books. Permanent Deferral is both a serious and humorous look at this escapism.
Image 1: Untitled (Permanent deferral) 2013. Supported by the Bowness Family Foundation.
Image 2: Photographs from Christopher Day’s archive (taken by Maggie Finch).
Christopher Day is supported by the Bowness Family.