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October 26, 1980 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-10-26
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The Michigan Daily-Sunday, Octobei

Page 8-Sunday, October 26, 1980-The Michigan Daily



It's finally here. Accept no sub-
stitutes. The first true Art of the People.
How else can you turn a nickel and a
bunch of pictures you cut out of
magazines into a Statement on the
Aesthetics of the Everyday, an Insight-
ful Portrayal of the Human Condition,
or simply The Stupidest Thing You
Ever Saw in Your Life? Xerox art is the
only answer.
Woah, before you laugh you should
realize that xerox art is now a well-
respected art form (at least in some
small circles). Many of the kiosk adver-
tisements you see around town are
simply skillful xeroxes. Several of the
galleries around town even display
xerox art.
SO THIS IS your big chance for your
15 minutes of fame. You don't even need
any expensive equipment ... well, you
do, but you don't have to buy it. All you
need is a pair of scissors or an exacto
knife; some glue (Liquid Paper ac-
tually works best); an ample sup-
ply of any kind of visual material; and a
keen eye for meaningful or absurd jux-
tapositions. The kind of visual material
you can use is limited only by your
imagination. Many people comb old
picture magazines for their most
ludicrously out-of-date photos, but
some of the most striking xeroxes are
assembled from recent material. Of
course, the type of material you choose
also depends on the purpose of your
xerox. Whether you want to comment
on the anti-war movement or send an
absurd birthday card to a friend deter-
mines what type of material you will
choose to a large degree.
The purpose of your xerox is also
reflected in the style of xerox you
choose to do. The earliest form of xerox
is what I call the Paste-Everything-
Style. It basically involves gluing small
pictures and typed passages (often
unrelated) down on a piece of paper
more or less randomly. It often took
hours to decipher the early examples of

this style and sometimes wasn't worth
it, since this style is especially prone to
a variation on the "If you can't amaze
them with intellect, baffle them with
bullshit" syndrome. Lots of people
seem to equate lots of vague sexual and
violent symbolism with profundity .. .
or hoped their audience would. This
style is still useful if you have some sort
of informational (especially written)
content you want to get across,
although it is almost impossible to make
it artistically appealing.
At the other end of the spectrum is the
Photo-Montage Xerox. Whereas the
previous style makes no attempt to
represent itself as anything more than
what it is-a flat page with stuff stuck
on it-photo-montage xeroxes usually
try to represent some three-
dimensional object or scene. The ideal
photo-montage xerox should be in-
distinguishable from a real photo-you
don't want to drop any clues that this
scene doesn't really exist. For that
reason they are often more difficult to
assemble. They require at least a
minimal sense of perspective, point-of-

view, and space. Rather than just
laying snippets indiscriminately over
each other, the objects in a photo-
montage xerox often have to be cut and
interwoven with each other to create a
sense of three-dimensional reality. In
fact, the more depth created by the
layering of objects, the more real (and
thus more striking) the xerox appears.
IT ALMOST goes without saying that
most of the xeroxes you see every day
lie somewhere between these two ex-
tremes. Most people recognize that
the Everything-You-Own-Style is pretty
unattractive in its purest form. Thus,
they rely on fewer pieces to convey a
more intelligible and better-construe-
ted message. Often, these hybrid
xeroxes utilize some of the elements of
photo-montage as the basis of their
xerox, though the establishment of an
independent, believable sense of per-
spective is rarely their aim.
If you don't feel like cutting up

magazines; you shouldn't forget that
you can also use xerox machines much
like cameras to create xerox art. The
only limitation is that you have to be
able to put whatever you want to xerox
onto the glass plate of the machine. A
good xerox machine can give a star-
tling amount of accuracy and texture to
xeroxed objects, but other than that it is
often difficult to make a collection of
objects floating in a black void appear
very interesting. The most arresting
use of the photographic quality of xerox
has been in the area of self-portraits. If
you can get up enough nerve to ask the
person behind the counter, they
probably won't hesitate to let you xerox
your face. After all, it's your skin that is
going to turn red and fall off in big
chunks, anyway. Actually, xerox

machines use only ordinary fluorescent
light at a very high intensity. They do
as much harm to you as sitting in a
classroom in Angell Hall for an hour.
Beware, though, the aforementioned
accuracy of most machines expose
every single pimple and blemish on
your face . . . and xeroxes cannot be
THERE ARE ALSO some peculiar
characteristics of xerox machines that
wise xeroxists can use to their advan-
tage. First of all, instead of exposing an
entire surface all at once as cameras
do, xerox machines xerox from the top
to the bottom of the plate at a relatively
slow rate. Thus, one can move an object
slowly while it is being xeroxed and
produce an image that looks like it has
been stretched and twisted on Silly Put-
Also, keep in mind that xeroxes do not

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duplicate with perfect accuracy. If you
make a xerox, then a xerox of that
xerox, then a xerox of the xerox that
was a xerox of the original xerox, etc.
etc. you will come up with a
progressively more abstract xerox as
the finer points of the original are even-
tually lost to solid blacks and whites. In
addition, many machines have a
"Lighten/Darken" option which will
allow you to reduce your original to a
series of dots that vaguely sketch out

the original lines using the same
process as above and pressing the
"lighten" button for each xerox.
Finally, the major innovation in
xerox art is clearly the introduction of
color xeroxes. The process of color
xeroxing inherently leaves itself open
to substantial manipulation. A single
color xerox is composed of one xerox
each in three different colors (red,
green, and blue in that order) laid on
top of each other. Thus, with the

management's permission, you can
manipulate the color balance and in-
tensity of your xeroxes. In addition, the
fact that the three xeroxes are made
separately allows you to move the ob-
ject in between the passes of the light
and create what appears to be a triple
exposure in red, blue, and green.
Of course, these aren't the only
possibilities for xerox art. I'm still a
relative newcomer to the field, so every
new discovery reveals a myriad of
potentials for xeroxing that I may-
never be able to pursue. So, I hope
you'll start to explore some new
territory in xerox art for yourself. What
have ybu got to lose... but a-nickel?

Daily A
the lotte

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