Channel Surfing

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Channel Surfing

by Catherine Gross

   


Statement:

I’m a self-admitted television addict, so when we were presented with the task of creating a collage of found images and objects, I was immediately drawn to the idea of appropriating images from television. Making collages is one of my favorite hobbies – I spend a fair amount of time cutting up photographs from magazines each week to decorate my walls and notebooks, but have never really considered it art, or pondered the implications of using these images until delving into discussions of appropriation within the context of this Open Source Culture course.

I grew up watching a mix classics and acclaimed sitcoms: I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, Seinfeld, The Gilmore Girls, The Brady Bunch, but today, with the exception of a few NBC sitcoms, the majority of my television addiction is satiated with unscripted reality shows. Reality television is my least-guilty pleasure. I phrase it that way, because when I offer up this piece of information, I’m often met with looks of disgust or a lecture – usually from a member of my parent’s generation – on how television, specifically of the reality variety, is ruining the medium. While I can see why fans of I Love Lucy might not enjoy Snooki’s shenanigans on Jersey Shore, or how my father, who loved the wholesome Cosby Show, is not exactly entertained by the conspicuous consumption on The Real Housewives or the outrageous behavior of the Kardashian family, I am unashamed of my fandom.

While reality is definitely changing the medium of television, I would reject the notion that reality programming is mindless or beneath much of its scripted counterparts. Additionally, the television industry as a whole is at a crossroads with the shift in how content is consumed. DVRs and internet-viewing have changed television’s advertising structure, leaving reality as the most profitable option, especially when considering the illegal viewing of pirated shows online. This is where I found the inspiration for this collage.

My collage is a mix of layered appropriated television images on a remote control, whose buttons have been altered. The bottom layer of images, which is barely visible, are those from classic, scripted shows, such as I Love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver, The Twilight Zone, and The Donna Reed show, with added layers, appropriated from magazines, from current TV hits. While I included a few surface images from sitcoms (30 Rock) the vast majority are from the world of reality programming: The Real Housewives, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, The Rachel Zoe Project, and The Hills. This proportion of reality-to-scripted reflects the notion that reality programming is “taking over,” and the layers reflect the timeline and trajectory of television’s history and future.

The number buttons on the remote have been warped and unordered to reflect the perceived disarray surrounding television and the changes in the media industry – leaving many questions as to TV’s future. Additionally, the “rewind” button is missing, implying that a return to scripted-only programming is unlikely. The materials used – specifically tabloid magazines, also speak to the intersection of today’s television programming with popular culture, which is reflected in this photograph. 


Materials:

The materials used for this collage were a remote control, online images from opening titles to classic television shows, which can be found here, and cut photographs from US Weekly and People Magazine. When assembling, I used glue to layer the images, and finished it with a surface sealer.

 


Method:

The method for making this collage was fairly simple. I first took apart the remote control, removing the button-pad. I then covered the remote with the classic television images, and let that layer dry. After finding images from shows in current tabloids, I shred and layered them over the classic images, covering the majority of the background. I then cut some of the buttons out of the pad and placed them on the remote, removing some, and reordering others. Lastly, I sprayed on a few layers of a satin sealer to give it a glossy finish.

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