THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
AN INTERVIEW WITH ALEX MORRIS
Known as Notes.Pictures, Alex Morris is the name behind the amazing collage pieces that are trailblazing through the 'post-photography' world. His highly aesthetic, stunning artworks play on the binary of concentrated emotions, offering the beholders of his images insights in the intriguing world of his inner mind, whilst leaving his work open for personal interpretation. In the eye of the of the beholder, what do these images convey? To us, they convey sublime beauty.
"Can you tell me a bit about your work, what are you trying to convey?"
For the most part, I am not really trying to convey anything. It’s more about sparking a feeling. Art is in the eye of the viewer, so I’m less interested in telling people something than I am getting everyone to feel something of their own. But if I had to generalize, I’d say I’m trying to convey emotions or feelings that can’t be put to words.
All work is 100% analog. Paper, glue, and sometimes paint or ink. It's become my haven from the screens that follow me everywhere else.
"Who and what are your influences?"
I got started doing collage through a work project, where we commissioned work from a number of artists for a client. So I can thank people like Molly Scannell, Adam Hale, and Mario Wagner for that. Beyond that, Stefan Gunnesch and Jesse Draxler have been pretty big influences as well.
"What are the themes of your work?"
By and large, the theme of my work is emergence. I enjoy the process of stripping imagery from it’s context and combining disparate pieces to create something that has a completely different meaning than it’s individual parts would suggest.
"Your work seems to focus on faces and portraits. What do these distortions symbolize to you?"
As humans, we’ve evolved to read faces– it’s where we communicate the most subtle yet potent emotions. Using faces and portraits lets me play with different combinations of these concentrated emotions. If this portrait is showing joy, and this one sadness, what happens when they are combined?
One of the things I like most about collage as a medium is it's accessibility. I think art is often intimidating and has a high barrier to entry, on both sides of the equation; creating and buying.
On the creation side, I've never had "talent" in a traditional sense– I couldn't draw or paint any of what I'm making. But collage lowers this barrier to entry as an artist (I got started on $30 of supplies and a magazine) and reduces it down to vision and experimentation.
As far as buying, most art is so far out of reach for most people that we have to be content with mass produced prints. I was lucky in that I grew up with an artist in the family –my grandmother is a painter– so we always had original artwork all over the house. But we never would have been able to afford it if it wasn't given to us. What's nice about collage is that cost of materials is so low, I can sell a piece for $40 instead of $400 or $4,000. I've sold a lot to kids in college which has meant a lot to me. To be able to help them put something original up in their dorm rather than the expected John Belushi Jack Daniels poster.
"Do you consider your work to be a kind of photography?"
I don’t think that I would.
I used to do a lot of photography back in high school. What I liked about it was that very often you would catch a moment in time that you would have otherwise never known existed– but once captured is clearly more powerful than anything observed in real time. Glances between father and son, moments of contemplation in an otherwise busy setting.
Photography is about capturing a moment that, once captured, conveys something bigger.
What I do is in many ways far more crude. I’m pushing the “captured feeling” to the forefront and cutting away everything else.