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25 October to 18 November 2006

“Symbols grow. They come into being by development out of other signs, particularly from icons, or from mixed signs partaking of the nature of icons and symbols... So it is only out of symbols that a new symbol can grow. Omne symbolum de symbolo.”
— C.S. Pierce 
“The Icon, Index, and Symbol,”

Taken one by one the physical activities of collage making appear disarmingly simple, so simple in fact that their significance easily escapes notice. However, when they are taken together, as an integrated series of transformations, a quite surprising symbolism appears. The activities entailed in making and physically transforming collages can then be seen to embody the logic of our psychological development. These activities comprise an extended metaphor; they symbolize the growth of the human mind.

Paper is the main medium used in the ‘fragments’ work, the palette takes advantage of its portable and tactile qualities. The nature of colláge and its tactility produces layers partially informing the viewer of the process and journey. The fragmentation of paper resources, as opposed to using them in their entirety, is a method used to break down and abbreviate imagery into a re-interpretable format. This is suitable for combining multiple sources and arriving at more substantial context and interpretive meaning in the form of hybrid imagery. This is analogous to the etymological breaking down of words in search of meaning and origin.

Sourcing paper material culture is an infinite and intricate journey conducive to the idea of continuous observation and note taking; keeping the work both experiential and experimental. The system of researching and sourcing a vast range of visual textural sensations and contemporary references, improvised and rapidly laid down, is in itself an unconscious system of language. A vital part of this language is the act of cancellation i.e. concealing previous layers. Through the act of cancellation layers of paper build up, enhancing the tactile surface similar to quantities of life experience and memory. Tearing away also restores layers so that there is a life to each fragment of the image whether it is visible; appearing at the image surface (the tangible conscious) or concealed; (within the unconscious) buried beneath the surface, but still an active part of the object’s history, development and subsequent narrative.

This work and process parallels the theory of ‘detournement’ written about by Guy Debord. The reuse of preexisting artistic elements form in a new ensemble. Elements may lose their original sense completely while creating the organisation of another meaningful ensemble. Detournement has a peculiar power. It stems from the double meaning, from the enrichment of most of the terms by the coexistence within them of their old senses and their new, immediate sense. We find ourselves confronted with both the urgent necessity and near impossibility of bringing together and carrying out a totally innovative collective action.

The altering of surfaces and visual sensations by this process forms a series of procedural and semantic orderings implicating the process as narrative. By experimenting with scale via the enlargement of imagery in either a single piece or composite panels, the intimacy of smaller scale works has been made appropriate to the idea they represent. They can be read as a continual visual narrative. The picture extending outside the picture plane further promotes this concept, linking the progression of each work and further exploration.

Collage has become a critical paradigm of the information age because it opens the range of possibilities through which we interpret information artifacts. Cut and paste enables semiotic construction that simultaneously leverages and detourns the means of production embodied by particular media elements. The recombination of genetic codes of meaning creates hybrid forms.

Brian Spiteri, October 2006

Brian Spiteri 2008 Exhibition

Brian Spiteri 2010 Exhibition
Brian Spiteri 2012 Exhibition