Above: Student Projects
The Altered Portrait and Scape
embracing the eccentric/ absurd/ improbable/ strange/ bizarre
Gabriel Garcia Marquez has defined Magic Realism as
“destroying the line of demarcation that separates what seems real from what seems fantastic”
Introduction: Imagining the world in a way that it cannot physically exist has inspired artists throughout history. These flights of fancy have often started with dreams, desires, humor or terror and have been entertaining, provocative and inspirational for viewers. Because photographers point their camera at “real” subjects, photographs have historically been believed as more “real” representations of the world than a painting or drawing, yet we know a photograph can be distorted/changed/edited. Now digital tools make those manipulations even easier. We just experienced this with our manipulated portraits.
Now you will turn your imagination to a fuller image that includes a "portrait" and an environment. You can consider landscape or interiors, miniatures or magnified images. Although there are many styles and degrees of creating eccentric images, we will focus on a semi-believable approach similar to magic realism. In this tradition, common or mundane forms are changed but they maintain a degree of believability. They often hold meaning that is personal/ political in nature and have a poetic/ multi-layered interpretation.
The result should be compelling, *almost* believable and either strange or humorous but not clichéd. If you’ve seen something like it on a greeting card, the web or a movie, it's probably clichéd. The combined images should hint at something you are or wonder about that might not be readily apparent. You don’t have to tell a whole story with this image, just provoke a response in your audience by being compelling, sustaining and surprising.
Here are some artists who work this way and sometimes even more distorted than magic realism:
Changing Visual Qualities:
Do Ho Suh
Combining Unusual Elements or Materials:
Robert and Shanna ParkeHarrison
Joel Peter Witkin
The Chapman Brothers
Aziz and Cucher
Inez Van Lamsweerde
Rudd van Empel
Allora and Calzadilla
Olalekan Jeyifous and MOMA's Architecture and Black History