Go West, Young Man, the Cradle of Civilization, the Promised Land, the False Hope of the Horizon, Wide Open Spaces, Freedom, Liberty, Independence, the Land of Milk and Honey, the Lure of the West. In his latest exhibition, Stephen R. Mingle takes his brand of imagery on a wild, freewheelin’ ride via the signs, symbols, and icons that run wild in the great expanses of the Western Digital World. Mingle jams digital fragments from various times and places into a colloquial language that speaks of current state of modern life.
Mashed together, collapsed upon, thrown together, juxtaposed, collaged, and interwoven, the images mix and mingle, embrace and repel, horrify and amuse. From Greek gods to Klaatu, from the Black Knight to Mr. Robato, the digital West finds a space for all to thrive. Yet for one idea to flourish, others must be quashed, defeated, displaced, or destroyed. Within Mingle’s pieces, different cultures, civilizations, subgroups, and stereotypes spar for relevance, superiority, and in so doing call the viewer to question the complexities of our lives. Mingle’s goal is for the work to have a visceral impact, “for the viewer to know what it felt like to be alive at the time the piece was was made.”
The works include large-scale archival pigment prints, composed and formulated in several generations of Adobe Photoshop. The imagery originated from digital photography, screen grabs, video capture, re-photography, and other free-flowing detail media. His art making process is closer to that of a deejay, scratching and mixing, chasing a beat, than with traditional art-making methods.
Mingle has been working in photography, photojournalism, and art since the 1980s, and working with digital art, photography, and illustration since the mid-90s. He holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Photo/Video from the Kansas City Art Institute. He grew up in small-town Kansas, migrated to Kansas City, San Fransisco, Ventura, east to Washington D.C., and then ultimately to the desert southwest of Arizona.