"How it is, there is no telling, but Islanders seem to make the best whalemen. They were nearly all Islanders in the Pequod, Isolatoes too, I call such, not acknowledging the common continent of men, but each Isolato living on a separate continent of his own. Yet now, federated along one keel, what a set these Isolatoes were!" Herman Melville
Isolatoes is a web project which attempts to picture selected chapters from Herman Melville's novel, Moby Dick. Each chapter, accessed through the left menu, is a digital collage mixed from various still and moving images. The top menu, Introduction, Etymology, and Extracts plays on the opening sections of Melville's novel and also includes links to References used in this project. The Initiated in 2008 by Marlene Angeja, Isolatoes also includes a series of paintings produced between 2008-2010.
When this project was initiated in 2008, one of my interests was the growing availability of free education on-line. I had become a fan of some UCBerkeley lectures on itunes, including Hubert Dreyfus' philosophy courses. Moby Dick comes to play in Philosophy6: Man, God and Society in Western Literature. While my project does not attempt to illustrate Moby Dick, it is inspired by the novel's remarkable content and structure. Although it is a web project, Isolatoes is meant to function much like traditional collage in the spirit of Kurt Schwitters' merz.
Note about found material: I do my best to stick to the use of found images which are in the public domain or under a creative commons license (Wikimedia Commons, Archive.org, Flickr: The Commons, or Creative Commons Search). Images and videos are credited either underneath or with a direct link by clicking on image. All of my own images and videos are under Creative Commons license and can be used and mixed freely with attribution.
"It runs up against a certain fear related to being a user of technology. This fear stems from our panic at the prospect of reaching our threshold of incompetence. Able to do nothing, or almost nothing, maintained as we are in a system that makes the division of labor seem a natural condition, we are evolving into a culture based on the famous "Peter Principle," which assigns each person a limit beyond which he or she becomes counterproductive, that is, blameworthy. We cannot conceive of manipulating objects beyond certain limits: the ideology of competence induces us unconsciously to refuse reading what we are not supposed to understand, operating machines without an instruction manual... this is doubtless misguided." (Nicolas Bourriaud, The Radicant p152)
"I know a little of the principle of design, and I know this thing was not arranged on any laws of radiation, or alternation, or repetition, or symmetry, or anything else that I ever heard of." (Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper)
"When I adjust materials of different kinds to one another, I have taken a step in advance of mere oil painting, for in addition to playing off color against color, line against line, form against form, etc., I play off material against material, for example, wood against sackcloth. I call the weltanschauung from which this mode of artistic creation arose 'Merz.'
The word 'Merz' had no meaning when I formed it. Now it has the meaning which I gave it. The meaning of the concept 'Merz' changes with the change in the insight of those who continue to work with it." (Kurt Schwitters, Merz The Dada Painters, Robert Motherwell, ed.)
"There's no such thing as a 'better material. It's just as unnatural for people to use oil paint as it is to use anything else. An artist manufacures his material out of his own existence - his own ignorance, familiarity or confidence." (Robert Rauschenberg interview by Barbara Rose, 1987 Elizabeth Avedon editions.)
"We know that what constitutes graffiti is in fact neither the inscription nor its message but the wall, the background, the surface (the desktop); it is because the background exists fully, as an object which has already lived, that such writing always comes to it as an enigmatic surplus: what is in excess, supernumerary, out of place - that is what disturbs the order of things; or again: it is insofar as the background is not clean that it is unsuitable to thought (contrary to the philosopher's blank sheet of paper) and therefore very suitable to everything that remains (art, indolence, pulsion, sensuality, irony, taste: everything the intellect can experience as so many aesthetic catastrophes)." (Roland Barthes, The Responsibility of Forms)