German artist Daniel Voelker is constantly looking towards the fight between old & new. He flirts with a visual dominance by delivering the viewer an overdose of colors, shapes and impressions. While his pieces are immediately visually compelling, there is constantly more within and behind the work ...
Daniel says that “the red line of all my works is the fight between analog vs. digital”. In addition to the conceptual questions he is addressing, he enjoys the idea of the viewer literally “changing their position”, so as to “see more and different things”.
|Daniel Voelker's Overdose 05, 2007|
Coming from a traditional route of studying photography, then undertaking commercial fashion, advertisement and portrait work, he struggled with the way images were being used and perceived.
With titles such as 'Overdose', 'Crossover' and 'Analog Pixels' it is no surprise that his art deals with "the everyday flood of pictures". He believes that the images often become "meaningless since there are so many, and you can't really focus or concentrate on each of them”.
Exploring this proliferation of images and questioning the way we observe them is, in essence, the same notion behind the creation of the ishotkatemoss.com project. It was therefore a beautiful surprise to find that he too has begun to use kate, but in a way that we hope you will find as astounding as we have.
Having previously created series that layered porn images with old nude paintings, and also working with found slides that he scanned and then covered the central motifs with digital raster graphics, Daniel's latest body of work has taken his analog vs. digital battle to another level by appropriating the idea of mosaic image making through the utilization of stamps.
Using philately to such an extreme is the opposite of the annoying movement for digital mosaic images, which seemed to have their heyday approximately twenty years ago. In the field of photographic imaging, a 'photomosaic' is a picture that has been divided into, usually equal sized rectangular, sections each of which is replaced with another photograph that in someway matches the target photo. When viewed at low magnifications, the individual pixels appear as the primary image, while the picture is in fact made up of many hundreds of smaller images. Nowadays anyone can access software that can generate such a computer-created montage of your family, your dog or a masterpiece in a matter of minutes.
Daniel however, in his recent series “Analog Pixels”, follows this process with stamps.
Daniel Voelker (DV): My stamp mosaics deal with longing; longing for ‘good old times’, longing for meaning, longing for fame and beauty and/or longing for someone (who wrote that letter to someone else, maybe even a love letter).
iskm: Why kate as a subject?
DV: I used kate moss and other famous models because they are modern icons for many people. Also, as I come from the fashion industry as a photographer, using images of (super)models was a bridge. The fashion/photography industry is very fast, you have hundreds and thousands of photographs every day in magazines around the world and a week later those images are forgotten. Using stamps and taking the time I need to do each of these mosaics I work against this forgetting and the pace. The pictures become something very unique and, hopefully, remembered. These pictures are not exchangeable like all the photographs in magazines every day. It takes time and patience, which is something I really miss these days.
|Kate, 2014 Mosaic made of 1827 postage stamps|
DV: My mom used to collect stamps. While helping her move houses a couple of years ago I found her collection in a box. I remembered playing with the stamps when I was a child and looking them over I thought that each of them was an artwork unto itself. I also found a fascinating kind of ‘treasure hunting’ feeling. However, at that time though, I didn't think "oh, nice, I can make art with this". A while later I came across some mosaic ‘art’ and I thought, that’s nice but didn't connect the dots … one day, I thought that I should make mosaics with the stamps. My series "Overdose" are all squares because of the pixels, so it seemed to be a natural progression to make "Analog Pixels" with stamps.
iskm: Where do you get the stamps? Are they all from the same country? From the same time period?
DV: I get the stamps mainly on ebay, some I get from people who would like to be a part of the process. They are usually from Germany since that is where I have the best access. For consistency, each picture uses only the same size of stamp. Therefore, as every country uses different sizes, I only use stamps from one country for a piece. The stamps are from multiple periods, some of them are 100 years old, some pretty new.
|Kate Moss/W, 2013 Mosaic made with 2067 stamps|
iskm: Do you sort by color? How do you choose the stamps?
DV: In addition to size, I sort them by color and also by shade otherwise I couldn't do the fading from dark to bright. If I didn’t fade, they would look like Warhol prints with defined black hair, red lips, blue eyes and so on … with this shading I attempt to make them look more photorealistic.
iskm: How long did it take to make each kate piece?
DV: It takes about 3-4 months from the beginning (getting them on ebay) to the end (gluing the last stamp) for each picture. I glue them stamp by stamp.
DV: I don't like digital that much, especially in photography. Everyone can take good looking pictures of anything these days … like your food, your knees at some beach or the self-loving "selfies". You put a filter (ironically often vintage) above it and all looks great! Everyone tries to make them look analog, but very few shoot film because either they don't know how to use the older cameras or they want the result immediately to retouch them in photoshop or to post them on social media ... analog means something like "real", "unique" or "genuine" to me. It’s handmade.
iskm: Which photographers/artists would you most want to most see involved in ishotkatemoss?
DV: I admire and get inspired by many but the photographer I would pick would be Richard Avedon. His way of taking pictures of strangers made regular people into personalities. When you see his pictures you can see the subject’s soul and feel how they felt the moment that picture was taken. I would also like to see what some painters could produce … someone like Gerhard Richter. Or what would Jackson Pollock have made of this? Both Richter and Pollack have had this amazing feeling to use color. They both don't know in the beginning how the picture will turn out in the end, but when they see "it" they know. They would stop, and they made a masterpiece. I admire their playfulness using color and paint.
And then, marrying the photography and painting is Chuck Close, who of course has actually shot kate. When you get near to his portraits, you just see squares with different shapes and colors in a grid, when you step back you start seeing a persons face. I just love the effect!
If you would ask me this question in 2 months, I might pick different artists. This changes sometimes depending on my mood!
iskm: ishotkatemoss uses a catch phrase, “Observe. Slow Down. Shoot. Submit.” in the context of what we do and how we encourage others to see and think. It seems as though, particularly with “Analog Pixels”, in using stamps, you have taken the idea of observation and slowing down to an extreme.
DV: What I also really liked about it was that stamps are dying out and with my work I can kind of keep them alive. I think stamps are beautiful and they have this nice, calm energy. Stamps are normally connected with boredom but using them to do art makes them even more interesting again. Plus it’s a little history for everyone. And maybe someone will find a stamp in my pictures, which is in fact really valuable (because I don't have the time to check all of them)!
Here at ishotkatemoss, we definitely see the value in Daniel’s process. So have a look at more of his work at www.danielvoelker-art.com and use whatever inspires you to:
Observe. Slow Down. Shoot. Submit.