Photomontage can be utilised within art and photography in many ways including double exposure, surreal and structural work. Double exposure work began in film photography and the darkroom, layering negatives to combine images. Maurice Tabard was a prominent figure within this medium creating interesting manipulations of people.
The first piece features a nude woman as well as some light shapes and some hand shapes. This creates an interesting depth to the image as it is difficult to discern which shapes come from which layer. Adding multiple layers in this way is unusual as the eye jumps around the image rather than focusing on one area like the second image, Am I Beautiful? The manipulation is a lot more subtle in this work with only the eye seeming different. The title of the work is interesting too as the features of the subject have been distorted then the focus is still on appearance.
Dan Mountford creates more modern double exposure pieces. His works are sharper and seem more fashion oriented, the shots very clean and slick. He uses nature imagery combined with portraits in a very precise way, always keeping the imagery within the shapes of the portrait, creating a more exacting double exposure that seems to evoke less of an emotional or conceptual response.
Conceptual work is often explored through the medium of photomontage, as it is an effective way to create the impossible. It is also used to delve into human nature and the mind, again visually realising the impossible. Clarence John Laughlin has scrutinised this within his piece, The Masks Grow To Us, a work that looks into hiding one’s true self and hiding personality.
“In our society most of us wear protective masks (psychological ones) of various kinds, and for various reasons. Very often, the end result is that the mask grows to us, displacing our original characters with our assumed characters.” – Clarence John Laughlin
The image depicts a woman with her face half covered by an artificial mask, very clearly representing the fake personality Laughlin describes in his work. It is an intriguing concept to look at and relates directly to more modern works about appearance.
Bruno Metra and Laurence Jeanson have created works that involve replacing facial features with magazine cut outs. This is an engaging concept as it looks into the materialistic and appearance obsessed world, especially within the fashion industry, where perfection is valued above all else.
Some photographers work primarily in advertising and create very slick pieces based around a lot of digital work. Alberto Seveso does this through using Photoshop to manipulate a fashion-esque image with illustration and the addition of depth. This is achieved with the extra layers within the face, changing the structure completely.
Structural manipulation is another method of photomontage. David Hockney‘s work is especially prevalent in this area. His work involved taking many different polaroids of landscapes, objects and people from different viewpoints then compiling them into one piece.
The effect this has on the landscapes is to give them a more three dimensional quality. It provides depth to the images by isolating objects that are further away, drawing focus to the far points of the scenes. The image of the chair is interesting because the manipulation has changed the structure completely, the shape being completely different. This changes the entire function of the object by making it a useless shape for its intended purpose. This is a striking way to explore both the structure of objects themselves, as well as the physical structuring of an image.