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© 2007 Darrell Taylor        All rights reserved.

The image above is a digital "collage" of maybe a thousand individual pictures and picture fragments. I spent about three months constructing it in Photoshop CS2. The original image file weighs in at over a gigabyte--16,800 pixels wide, by 8,400 pixels in height. Printed at 300 dpi, the picture is five feet wide on our library wall in a wood frame that I made.

I started making these "surreallegories" in imaging software then available in the early '90s, and my first website in 1995 included several that I had constructed more or less one pixel at a time. Today's imaging software and storage capacities make working with much larger images feasible.

This picture is an homage to friends and family completed in the first year of my eighth decade. It is intended to be funny but serious. It contains over a hundred "characters" in historical costume, and placed in a "romantic" landscape/citiscape. Though my knowledge of the people depicted surely influenced my choice of costume, there was no special attempt to interpret the real-world style and character of any person depicted. Most costumes were chosen for reasons of visual "fit" and feasibility of collage construction. As with my former large photomontages, there are a large number of "jokes" and secrets built into the image, most of which are visible only at higher magnification for those with patience to explore. Costumes and environments were provided by photographs made by me and others, and by copying from historical art works. I like to imagine so many people who have counted for me in one big festival--friends-and-family via Breughel, Google, and Robert Altman. Or, if you prefer, "Where's Waldo?" Into the bargain you get purloined fragments from the work of Breughel, Manet, Velázquez, Vellers, Steen, Dürer, Goya, Holbein, David, Ingres, Sargent, Cranach, Morris, and several other formidable artists!

The superb "Las Meninas" painting by Velázquez (1656), that hangs in the Prado has long been a work of interest to me. Even at the most literal level it constitutes an inventory of most modes of vision available to the artist: representation in painting, mirror images, reflexive references to the artist himself, and a sly compendium of the distribution of power in all dimensions of "the look," even including the gaze of political royalty upon the directorial gaze of the depicted painter, himself. Behind the fun of the surface of my picture, I have similarly inventoried many ways of seeing: microscopic, macroscopic, reflective, representational, and so on, and linked these to the basic human urge to "see all" and "in focus" as God is said to do. The "digitalis" refers, of course, to the digitalized transformation of the images, but it also refers to the Foxglove plant, source of digitalis, which is used medically as a "heart stimulant". The people depicted have had a similar role in my life. "Meninas" translates as "maids," both women and bridesmaids. If you know me, the implications may be obvious.

I do not ordinarily appreciate "explanations" of this sort, but thought it might be easier to answer some questions about the work here, rather than in individual responses.

This work is one possible use of a long Maine winter.

Update: Eight years later (January, 2015), I have printed out a sepiatone version of the image to install in a 46" wide frame to hang in our front parlor, as an ironic family-tree homage to friends and family--one that works better with the decor and architecture of the room than the full-color version. To add a personal note: the passing of more than a decade now renders the content poignant in ways I did not foresee (deaths, divorces, displacements, lost friendships).

Copyright © 2007   -   Darrell Taylor