MMC140 Concept Journal

Major Project: Montage: Part 2: Concept Journal.

Initial Thinking:

A variety of styles and approaches to photomontage have enticed me to consider creating images that extrapolate on issues affecting society today. Because art imitates life, (and life imitates art), I wanted to find an abstract way to illustrate fractured identities. Looking at the world we live in, I have identified three issues that could be creatively interpreted into artworks: Mental Illness, Cultural Personas and Social Vices.  Each of these themes exemplifies topics that can cause consternation and controversy but also illuminate awareness and interaction within our own communities.

When initially exploring these three ideas, I first listed out words that I associated with each of these motifs and then began sketching out some rough ideas for a four-portrait series. While sketching, I was able to work out what words could be incorporated into the ideas and which needed to be removed. I was also able to formulate ideas for both colour and proportion and considered ideas of four united images or using a progression of pictures.


Mental Illness:

There are many mental illnesses which lend themselves to being captured in photomontage, as this particular health issue is very specific to fractured identities. I considered Depression, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Schizophrenia, Agoraphobia, Paranoia and Overeating Disorders. Each of these diseases results in a fracture not only of the self, but also of how society responds and reacts to sufferers of these illnesses. My concept for these images would be to display four illnesses as montages, showing the symptomatic nature of each of the diseases from inside the brain and how it dislocates thought patterns.

After some rudimentary sketching, I determined that four of these illnesses would be well suited to montage expression with the background of each image highlighting situational stereotypes commonly associated with these issues. Mental Illness is both disparate and disjointed and this allows for a graphic representation that composites well into a series of images. Because mental illness is specifically associated with the head, my theory would be to use the same head in each illustration but with different facial expressions and to have the symptoms display from inside the head itself and the use of the lightning bolt signifies fracture.

Sketch Ideas:

Cultural Personas:

All of us are multi-dimensional characters, juggling life in a variety of personas dependent on our personal situation. In our day to day life, we interweave ourselves in our daily rituals, swapping and changing the ‘hats’ that we wear, as we struggle to fulfil the constant requirements for our time, expertise and attention.

Demonstrating this via photomontage would be a challenge but rewarding as each of us faces this daily toil. I see this as a very colourful series of images, each containing the same face wearing a variety of hats. Each of these hats would hold three icons related to their specific task: Parent, Career, Lover and Friend. Each of these four areas are commonly faced by Australians and the juggling of these hats often creates a fractured identity.

The metaphor of switching hats/personas/roles could easily be represented by physical hats of different sorts that encompass the three icons expressive of key features for each role.

Sketch Ideas:


Social Vices

Over the last 50 years, a number of once-acceptable vices have now become societal faux pas and this is echoed in our sense of enjoyment and fulfilment. We live in a world where smoking, drinking and gambling were seen as status symbols of success thirty years ago, but now are seen as ostracising behaviours. Divorce, however, was seen as the ultimate no-no in the past but is now seen as the norm. When contemplating this, I formulated two different plans for a series of images. Firstly, I considered illustrating four of these social vices individually – alcohol, cigarettes, gambling and divorce. While this idea was interesting, it could be made more dynamic by telling a story in a progressive series of images. My sketches led me to form a storyboard showing a couple enjoying alcohol, cigarettes and gambling who progressively become unhappier as they lose their social vices which ultimately leads them to divorce.

Sketch Ideas:


All of the ideas considered so far utilise colour montage and would incorporate a range of contrasting styles and techniques. Obviously, copyright and attribution will play a role in shaping the composition and this may also determine the final subject matter. Whichever way I choose to go, I will endeavour to create a series of montages that both enlighten and excite the viewer.


Grade : 9.2 out of 10

Comments : The ideas you have outlined in your Concept Journal all fit in well with the theme of the brief. Your journal clearly outlines and develops these ideas through the researching of language relevant to your topic/s. Your sketches begin the sifting and sorting of these references into visual communication. Keep using quick sketches even as you get closer to resolving your images. Making simple marks that are signs for your ideas – and which can be conjured up, applied and changed quickly, and also engage the hand/eye/mind – allows space for your imagination to make lateral jumps with unexpected connections. In regards to the issue of plagiarism/appropriation, as long as you are creating a new context and therefore your making a personal comment through using another person’s imagery – and not just directly applying it and claiming the imagery and ideas as your own – then that is OK. I look forward to seeing how you resolve your ideas and translate them into images.

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