Michael Dickins is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is created with a variety of media including photography, printmaking, drawing, installation, sound and video. His balance of both digital and material processes allows him to create pieces that are both expressive and engaging.
Dickins is interested in the impact that the technological advances of photography has had, and is having, on our visual culture. His current work has been focused on the importance of the snapshot in both historical and contemporary societies.
My art practice puts focus on mundane imagery by creating drawings using traditional materials, ink transfer drawings, installations and sound scores based on the history and memory generated from found photographs: photographs of my own and of others that are given to me. I am attracted to images that are taken not necessarily for “art” purposes, but for documentation purposes. The photographic recordings of people for remembrance/historical purposes, emotional purposes, and even as entertainment are the primary images that are used within my work. The images that I am drawn to and choose to use in my work have both potentially strong formal aesthetic qualities and content that is directed, yet open to interpretation.
Since the invention of the camera, particularly the Kodak camera (which opened photography to the masses), we have become a society that views life through the camera lens. I feel my practice is meaningful because it draws attention to the importance of photography, not just as a visual record of our modern history, but also as an art form that has a true and immediate impact on our society. To strengthen that attention, I take a curatorial role and select photographs, taken by both trained and untrained photographers, based on composition and content. I then recreate these images using a process that involves non-photographic techniques such as printmaking, drawing and computational graphics. By taking these photographs, which are normally viewed as small scale prints or digital images, and recreating them in a large scale format using both subtle and aggressive marks, the viewer is forced to become engaged with the images in a way to which he or she is not accustomed. It forces the viewer to question the importance of these images, which, on the surface, are images of the everyday, the mundane.
Like my drawings, the videos I use in my work are found videos appropriated from online sources. The sounds I use are created using a system of rational placement of sounds predetermined by the transcripts from the words spoken in the video. The text is transcribed, and then the sounds are processed electronically using a conceptually created system structure. The new sound often overlays, and sometimes replaces, the original sound in the video to change, or create a deeper meaning to, the experience of the video. As a non-trained musician, this systematic approach has allowed me to create complicated and intricate sound scores on top of banal visual stimulation.