A Cultural Clash Rendered in Collage

The bold, zany collage from the series, Digital Deli is a compilation of many images, says Marco Scozzaro, who discusses why he uses humour to comment on today’s photographic landscape.

© Marco Scozzaro, from the sries, Digital Deli. Analogue Glitch, 2016, Pigment Print, Collage

Through my project, Digital Deli, I reference and re-appropriate visual tropes in photography. Nowadays, with the digital revolution, we speak through images [and this] has informed my recent practice. I'm both attracted to, and critical of, certain recurring generic imagery or stereotypical images, and I started to create visual notes with my iPhone - taking things out of context by cropping, [capturing] details and textures.

Every image in this series is built in a different way, either by rearranging elements physically in the studio and making sculptural compositions, re-photographing fragments of photographs, or making an intervention in Photoshop. This image is one of the more obscure and oblique works from Digital Deli, which was recently on show at Baxter St Camera Club of New York where I’d been doing a residency. It’s similar to the others in that there’s a process and different layers [but] it’s a physical collage - created using the old-school process of cut and paste.

I’ve been embracing the practice of re-appropriating my work, either by re-photographing it or reintroducing outtakes of older work, and this piece is part of that conversation. I have a collection of test strips from print tests, and while in the studio one day, I was messing around with these and some of my other images and started to make collages, which I haven’t done in years. The collage features fragments of images from Digital Deli, and from my previous series, Maggio.

I wanted to use material that already existed. It was a case of putting together different textures organically - you have a cassette tape, some spaghetti that was on my floor, cactus plants, an image of a book of the project I made, tiles in my bathroom, a green brick wall, and so on. In a way it's a compilation of images from the project. There is also an image created by a computer glitch. I had opened one of my scanned negatives in Photoshop and the file was corrupted, but when I saw it, I thought the horizontal stripes were even more interesting than the original image.

The image of Italian cheese in the foreground was originally shot for a commercial project. The work wasn’t interesting to me, but I found the artificiality of the cheese image interesting. For me it says a lot about the saturated visual landscape I’m talking about in this work and that I’m trying to decode. I cut out the cheese and put it on a different background, and in this collage it becomes the main subject. The other elements in the background compete with it, so there is a dynamic energy at play.

My practice is about being open to humour - using it to talk about things such as why pop culture and mass media are so attractive, but at the same time cause me to respond critically. I wanted to embrace the humour that is part of me. The work [and this image] is about my conflicting relationship to pop culture, which informs the aesthetics.

I’m both an artist and a commercial photographer so I’m always trying to blur the lines between the two worlds. This back and forth conversation between what is art and what is commerce is interesting to me, and the question: "is this a personal or commercial work?" – I like to play with that.

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Marco Scozzaro is an Italian artist who lives and works in New York City. To see more work by Marco, visit his PHmuseum profile.

Gemma Padley is a freelance writer and editor on photography, based in the UK.

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