Photomontage opposes the documentary and scientific photographer's faith in the camera's ability to decipher and transcribe a world of intelligible surfaces. Instead it attempts to express intrinsic truths buried beneath the surface appearance of things. Montage plays the role of the child in the fable of The Emperor's New Suit . In fact, historically photomontage has been used to counter both accurate and inaccurate social veneer. John Heartfield battled Nazi propaganda using montage and Eugene Appert rewrote the history of the Siege of Paris using the same techniques.
Montage expresses inner reality, and in doing so the manner in which experience is processed in the mind. This accounts for its use in photography and cinema to depict dream, drug hallucination and psychotic states. The camera sees like the retina but the photograph sees like the mind, it overlaps, folds under, smudges and blurs, not to obey romantic pictorial conventions but to obey the psyche. It is a form of realism that emulates full cognitive perception.
The material reality of the photograph is a fundamental part of photographic seeing. Montage is one step back from the picture, a frame which includes the photograph. It is a kind of meta-photograph within which the photograph itself becomes visible. The layering of imagery permits a hierarchy of levels of awareness, this allows me to depict the photograph being made and set it apart from another perception of what was actually there.
My primary interests have to do with the improbable perception of reality. I believe we see through our own psychological filters, and therefore all photographs, even so-called scientific photographs are profoundly subjective. The inspiration to photograph comes only indirectly from the exterior world since it passes first through the imagination's reaction to it. Photography therefore is no more nor less representational of that exterior world than dream. Yet, the veracity of photography convinces us of the rational sobriety and mechanical impartiality of the camera even if that camera is in the hands of a madman.
*Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor's New Suit