When trying to express to students some of the challenges I experience when working with collage as an art form, I suggest that each element or bit torn out of a magazine has a voice. When you place two elements beside each other you have a potentially complex visual/cultural conversation. The collage projects I experienced (usually in an English class) in high school typically involved collecting dozens of marginally related images and pasting them on a single page. The processes involved were certainly a pleasant alternative to more routine activities, but the final product was always a frustration. I have since come to realize that what I had created in those first experiences with collage were the visual and narrative equivalent of a room full of people each talking at the top of their lungs with no one listening. Occasionally, mostly by chance, moments of coherent dialogue would rise above the din, but soon enough those little islands disappeared.
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