The Life is a Beach digital composite is another piece I created for Target Resistance and which uses a lot of different elements from a variety of sources. The background is composed of different sections of an abstract painting on paper and divided digitally. The sun, moon, planes, and compass (far bottom left corner) are all graphic elements from Photoshop as are the targets inside those elements. The bathing beauties are two of my 5 great-aunts, Betty and Mary-Ann, from family photographs taken at the New Jersey shore in the early to mid-1960’s. The car is from an old calendar while the hubcaps are copies of the targets I received from the leader of Target Resistance which have had a chrome effect applied as does the the tag I made containing the phrase ‘The American Way.”
The decisions regarding the color scheme for this piece were obviously impacted by the abstract painting I chose for the background, however, by the time I chose the segmented digital background I already had all of the key elements (sun, surf represented by women in bathing suits, an American muscle car, and military might represented by the planes) in mind. In the end, I thought the monochromatic effect added cohesion and the blue to purple shades provided a cognitive ‘cooling’ of my hot weather scene. There are also some nascent connections between the planes, the 60’s era car and 60’s era young American women, and the ‘or the highway’ subtitle to Vietnam and the abuse of military might which I might be interested in expanding on later. One aspect that I don’t consciously have a rationale for is extending various elements past the white border on predominately the right and bottom edges while specifically clipping the top left edge although the overall balance of the work seems right to me.
I think this piece captures my conflicted patriotism. I can’t just full force believe in the concept of the American way being the one, true right way because, obviously there is a whole world of ways out there and some of them are better. Just because some of those ways are worse doesn’t elevate our position and even though America may have been the first to accomplish certain feats that doesn’t mean that we have necessarily done those things the best. Plus, there is no reasonable way to not acknowledge and accept that our government, in the service of the citizenry and pride, ambition, manifest destiny, capitalism, ignorance, and fear have subjected groups of people to unjust and inhumane conditions and practices. However, despite all of those feelings the United States of America is my country, the one I was born and raised in, have lived all my years in and which, I have pride in. For me, it is truly a matter of believing that we, as a country and a people, could do so much better because we, as a country and a people, have done some cool shit. It’s not make America great again it’s make America better.
I am actually quite happy with this piece and think it strikes a good balance between ambiguity and familiarity.