Harold Diaz

illex welcomes American photographer and collage artist Harold Diaz. Harold’s work explores new relationships emerging in our contemporary world, from our evolving connection with nature to the effects of machine technology on human experience and human perception. Harold’s collages possess an aesthetic quality that is equally disquieting and fascinating while also conveying an overall tone that is equally serious and satirical.

Please enjoy his work and his interview.

In looking at the first four collages shown above, we are struck by thought-provoking themes of technology, computerization, and the overarching progress of machine capability and its effect on the contemporary human world. A conflict of humanity also expresses itself through these collages, in that the subjects’ faces, traditionally a chief component of human expression, have been concealed and replaced with incongruous and ominous imagery. These collages are fascinating and complex. Please tell us about their creation and your motivations.

I find evolving scientific data a very fascinating thing, mainly because it sheds a light on some unknown realities. But what’s equally striking to me are many of our responses to the data. In the collages I wanted to amplify some obsessions and ideals that pivot on empirical truths. Perhaps they have an undercurrent of conflict because of my own ideals. I initially sought to exploit transhumanist thought as an obnoxious ‘machinic’ movement. The second and third collages were created along that vein, inspired by the writings of Hans Jonas. However after reading recent research and my work with medical machines, other areas were explored. For instance, the fourth collage is derived from studies on the use of brain scans. Current scanning technology is able to visually map a variety of thought processes. I’m quite sure we’re all a bit sadistic within the confines of our heads and yet these results are being considered for use in criminal law for passing verdicts, determining parole and so forth. In the first collage I wanted to work with organic imagery and vibrant tones. I consider the woman in that photo as a humanistic index within the series, a resistance if you will. The image was again partially influenced by my work as a nurse for the critically ill, in which I was heavily dependent on monitors and a variety of machines. I sometimes view the collaged face as a monitor that provides us with other forms of data. I guess she’s my ideal of what it is to be human. She is my empirical truth.

In these images I focused on creating fictional characters. In the first collage I wanted the woman to personify some of the beautiful and horrific elements observable in nature, and to emulate some of the phantasmagoric beauty I see in microorganisms. I was initially drawn to the pattern of the woman’s blouse because I saw in it an opportunity to produce a sort of optical illusion. By framing her ‘face’ with the pale green background color, the graphic pattern of the blouse begins to compete with the colors of her ‘face’ producing a sensation of optical dissonance in the viewer. The use of non-organic images as a kind of mask was central to the other collages. I wanted to establish a theme of mimicry by seamlessly blending the masks with the humans in the photographs.

In the final two collages, you have reproduced within each collage certain elements internal to the image. In the collage of the man examining the electrical meter, for example, the meter and the brick wall have been copied and placed in the center of the image over the man’s head, with the new meter now facing back towards the original meter. In the image of the man kneeling, his arm and torso have been copied and placed over the man in a way that creates a similarly intriguing duality with the the man’s original body parts. These collages likewise possess a complexity and speak to an obscure significance. Please comment on these observations and any other themes related to these collages.

The technique is mainly for a mirroring effect, which I find very useful and versatile. Overall the electric meter collage fits with the response to the first question. I made the image as a mockery of the gullible empiricist. However, working as a nurse I often felt like a gullible empiricist. So in a way the image also became a sort of self-mockery. The last collage was an opportunity to explore the human male form, or at least some preconceived notions of it. It was also an opportunity to work with images of flesh and fur, textures I find quite beautiful.

please visit Harold’s Tumblr and Flickr for more.

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