Finally, one last critical component to collage is patience. This is a means of fabrication, of art making, of craft that simply comes to you, and is less about you venturing to find it. Collage is like a trap; you can have the best machinery, the perfect bait, and optimal conditions, but since it is a form of making visuals from other pre-made visuals, and those visuals are collected over time, there is an element of patience required to catch a great assemblage of art. But this isn’t anything new or different from many other forms of art; casting, for instance, takes an incredible amount of patience and time, just from a technical perspective. In the case of collage, the time comes from allowing visuals to come to you, keeping a close eye on the world around you, ready to collect something should it attract your art’s sensibilities.
There are lots of kinds of traps however, and to take the metaphor a bit further, in this case, it’s about what kind of collage you’re making, and for what purpose that defines the collection of visuals. As I explored before, if a collage is about capturing an environment, then the collection of visuals from that environment is pretty straightforward; my staid office lead to simply picking up and cutting up things around my desk and floor and surroundings and assembling them into a composition. If your goal for a collage is more aimed at capturing an identity, and that identity relates to many more aspects of life than simply its environment, then multiple traps should be set. And it could take a long time.
Enough with hyperbole now, it’s not to say that all collage requires you to just wait around and put things you find in a box until it’s time to sit at a table and cut them all up into pieces. You can easily go hunting for imagery to capture your expression as well, my ultimate point here is that over time, collecting visuals that inspire you and keeping them in a box somewhere allows for a more genuine and pure expression of yourself when you come to the assembly of them; as opposed to deciding when to collage, and then seeking out imagery at that moment, to capture your intent or character. If you’re representing something foreign, however, you have to retrain your collection criteria, the things you see and acquire that remind you of the new concept. This means you have to go hunting, and less gathering.
With all this rhetoric what I’m attempting to understand is the fundamental difference between a musician who mixes their music, and a musician who writes their music. There are obviously many shades of grey between the two techniques, but with the extreme case of Stratosphere who almost solely gathers, remixes, and reorders audio into musical pieces, it is that quality that distinguishes them as a band, and that’s the opportunity for distinguishing them in their identity.
Looking at the brand one x closer, they too are collecting only certain sounds that express them—within the context of their mix-matching technique there is even further a characterization of their music, specifically. For that I’ll turn to their 10 words they provided me that they say embody them. Though I’m pretty sure they made these words up in about 2 minutes to force me into a creative tailspin, if a seed is absolutely something I need to begin a project, then these seemingly random and disassociated words will do. So I jump into the design phase after my exploratory bird walk for this project, and finally get to sketching.
The goal at this point for Stratosphere is to indeed develop a form of identification mark, possibly detached from any words at all, and then to apply that mark in a fashion to their promotional materials. Scattered in this post are some of the ideas percolating for the band, through words, sketches, and more imagery that, for whatever reason, seem to gather at the soul of the music and their identity.