My goal is to create work that grabs attention and interest at first sight and rewards repeated, thoughtful viewing.
My assemblages are combinations and visual remixes of original photographs. I take different angles, different parts and different treatments of a location or setting and assemble them into a new whole. The subject matter is as varied as a forest stream, a processed-food factory, a dancer or a subway station. I'm always looking for the hidden, extra-dimensional connection a location or object has to itself over time and space. Like audio remix artists I break things down and re-combine them into something new, flavoring the fragmented original with my own subjective interpretations. Overlapping and combining these images creates a new semi-omnipresent point-of-view.
I have been greatly influenced by the work of Robert Raushenberg and his use of overlapping images to create rich textures and compositions; the cubists; and by painters such as Feininger and DeMuth for their graphic sensitivity to form, light and shadow. Additionally I've been fascinated by the multi-perspective constructions of M.C. Escher and the photo collages of Jerry Uelsemann. Lastly, a tip of the hat to the meticulous composition of Frank Stella and the haphazard compositions of John Cage.
Here's how I make this stuff:
I take still pictures at a setting or location, e.g. a laboratory, power plant, party, monastery, farm, carnival, etc. Then, using a computer, I trim, combine, cut, merge, outline and process these images and print the results.
I have always been fascinated by multi-dimensional non-Euclidean geometry in mathematics and physics. One way of looking at the art that I make is that I'm rendering a multi-dimensional viewpoint into 2-dimensions. A viewpoint in which different aspects of a setting are visible at once, from a perspective that could only be obtained by crumpling, slicing and folding our three-dimensional world in 4- 5- or 6-dimensional space.
I'm portraying rifts in space, time and point-of-view — looking at a setting from multiple perspectives simultaneously. Showing imagined lines of force and revealing unseen intersections and influences.
When you look at infrared or ultraviolet imagery you see objects encoded with information that a “normal” view does not reveal. By bringing together multiple images and shapes, I'm creating/revealing extra information and connections.
The cubists would view an object from a closely grouped collection of physical and temporal perspectives. Escher, in “Up and Down”, smoothly transitions from the perspective of a boy on a street looking up to woman on a balcony looking down at the boy. What I'm doing enlarges on that concept of mixed perspectives by widening the range and focus. Not multiple views a few paces apart, but multiple views in widely differing directions and scales. In my work, the multiple perspectives don't usually intersect tightly, but in a "surreal", which literally means “above real”, way.
The shapes of the images often derive from outlines of details within that same image or from other perspective images. The shapes and colors derive exclusively from the setting, that is, I rarely draw a shape or choose a color, I mix images and shapes that are present in the setting.
Brief Biography of Paul Smedberg
Born near Chicago in 1954, Smedberg’s output has included video art, performance art, installations and video documentary work. Since the late 90s, Smedberg has primarily focused on producing internet art and limited edition photographic assemblages.
He lives and works in Bloomington, Indiana.
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“Like audio remix artists I break things down and re-combine them into something new”