This exercise was to make a montage or collage with a political message. I wasn’t overly familiar with photomontage and so did some research into the medium and the works of famous photomontage artists.
I decided I wanted the message of my photomontage to be a warning against the potential dangers of social media use to children’s physical safety and mental health. I collected images from a variety of different sources including online, newspapers and magazines and personal artwork. Some of the images associated themselves strongly with the intended meaning of my montage….. for example an article from ‘Take a Break’ magazine about a girl being groomed via the social media interface Facebook. Others were more abstract and some merely photographs of objects.
I started by sketching a very rough idea of a possible layout in my sketchbook.
I then created an A3 photoshop document and imported a selection of my images. I had decided to use a photo of a young woman cut out a magazine as a central image for the composition and cut out her face using the magnetic lasso tool as I wanted there to be anonymity and universality to my message. I wanted to symbolise that teenagers can become trapped in the world of social media and that it distorts and narrows their perspective of reality and thought it would be quite powerful to have the young person in the centre of my montage tied in the cords of headphones. Initially the headphones and the cord were all in black but I wanted to create a strong contrast between the technology (as the tools of social media influence) and the possible effects. I took all my images of the phones, computers and tablets and the headphones and used adjustment layers to colour them in bright, youthful colours which symbolised their allure and excitement. I then chose darker tones of black, red and yellow for the elements of the design depicting danger and depression.
Derek S Cummins image of the gun made from prescription drugs has been used in the media to highlight the risks of dependancy on prescription medication (http://joeforamerica.com/2014/03/dear-gun-controllers-pharmaceutical-drugs-kill-people-bullets/) but I used it to illustrate that many teenagers are having mental health issues including depression and that there have been suggested links to social media use.
I originally placed my newspaper articles as a background across the whole composition….
I tried reducing the saturation and the opacity of these but still wasn’t completely happy with the effect…. the design looked too busy and there wasn’t enough contrast. I tried adding a black border to the top half of the design which looked great but I felt the idea needed taking further and shifted some of the elements around to almost split the composition in two. This gave me an effective contrast within the design and made the picture of the people popping out the top of heads much more punchy and powerful.
This was a simple painting I had done a few years ago and it has proved extremely versatile. It was based on the front cover of an issue of ‘The Psychologist’ and could be used to reflect both positive or negative feelings. I used the selection tool to cut out a small section and copied it to my montage.
Overall I was pleased with my first attempt at photomontage. I would like to experiment a bit more with mixed media in the future…. add more texture to my work. It would also be interesting to create a composition from just photographs.
Photograph of Teenagers with Mobile Phone