Dissolution of The Republic is a very early digital composite consisting of a digitally created background, one photographic element, marble effects cut manually into blocks, two drawings, and a series of other effects from Photoshop.
Carol Highsmith’s photograph of a frieze by Victor Berlendis which graces the Kiel Opera House (now known as the Peabody Opera House) in St. Louis, MO was cut by hand. I kept only the central couple with their child and the border which I placed over a digitally created yellow background. Since the rest of the work was going to be a muted shades of grey and a purplish-blue I thought the yellow would really draw the eye to the family scene in the middle. I printed out a marbled photo effect from Photoshop and manually cut the sheet of paper into equally sized blocks which I pasted down around the frieze’s border. Using two different printed, marbleized backgrounds I drew the faces of the male and female on top of bodies clothed in more modern day outfits, cut and pasted the figures onto the paper and scanned the whole image into my computer where I smoothed the image out to look more cohesive. The rays of light emanating from the base of the male’s throat were added last.
The image plays off of the concept behind the original sculpture which is of a new republic (a new union) and the promise of unity and harmony, thoughtful discourse and growth, equality and democracy at it’s best. But everyday living sullies the dream and wedges the key elements of the republic apart.
If you have a chance check out the opera house’s completed registration form (with photos and details galore about the building) for the National Register of Historical places. The above frieze with it’s accompanying quotes are discussed in more detail on page 7 and shown on page 52.