Maps & Fantasies

SalmonMatte’s talent at picking just the right palette was part of an inspiration to experiment a lot more with gradient mapping. I had used it in the past for photo restoration, but being able to get a gradient map just right was the key to inventing your own compelling pieces. In my early work I really liked the idea of trying to find the colors in the wild – gemstones, landscapes, paint – but now I was finally committing to dispensing with authentic colors and embracing expressionistic color. Adobe has a handful of gradient maps built in, and I used those a couple times, but overall I wanted to have my own palettes and moods that weren’t manufactured by someone else. This became one of the things that unifies series around a theme, even thought the content within the series might change a lot. Using particular maps that are named after series, such as the “legba” map or the “sunlight_water” map – I started saving huge collections of gradient maps that would be the earmark of a particular series that is otherwise just a collage of my own glitch work and found textures. In a sense, I think just making a really good gradient map is an artform in itself. I think artists like maalavidaa and dorianlegret have mastered this technique. This also was one of the last leaps to take towards collages I felt good about – if I could remap the colors then I didn’t feel strange about using pictures I’d taken of rocks or papers or clouds or puddles or whatever I’d found and making something that felt like art rather than just photography. There’s a growing number of “official” maps too – like the later Lisa Frank Prime gradient map, or the Jareddd Scott maps, or any one of my favorite mapped series like “the_current_cultural_fantasy_is_pretty_dark” or “chelsea.” Once in a while I’ll add a new piece to these series if I find something that works really well with some of those maps on it.

One of my favorite examples is this series I called “the_current_cultural_fantasy_is_pretty_dark” which was made when Joker came out. I wrote a short blurb about the movie – but I wanted to find a palette that wasn’t taken from the movie but *felt* how the movie felt. Some kind of strange combination of dark and off-kilter with exhilarating. So I found a map I liked for a JOKER image that I posted crops of with each piece, and developed a bunch of collages that used the map to unify them.