Collin Williams is a Professor of Art and director of New Media concentration at the University of Montevallo. He received his MFA and BFA from the University of Houston, University Park. His teaching expertise spans a range of topics including digital photography and printing, animation, 3D animation, web media, mixed media and digital video.
Williams' personal work investigates a multi-disciplinary approach to art exploring installation, motion graphics, printmaking, sculpture, and sound based works. Williams has a long-standing interest in language and his most recent work is an exploration of the artificiality of historical linear narratives in contrast to the fractured narratives of personal experience.
“The artist’s job is to be a witness to his time in history.”
- Robert Rauschenberg
My work is an investigation of the role of language in the construction of personal, familial and cultural identities. We have a tendency to think of language as a natural phenomenon, rather than as a technology of human conception. Language is a system of utterances designed to describe the present, record the past and imagine the future. While the present is experienced, the past and future require acts of imagination held by language as our personal and collective histories, which in turn construct our identities. We are the sum total of our stories and in a sense we are our language as a record of our memories and imaginings. We are the stories that we tell as artifacts of our experience.
All stories, from modest personal narratives to grand cultural histories are as much an act of erasing, as they are an act of recording. For every story that we chose to tell there is another story that we blindly neglect, or intentionally obfuscate.
Similar to the language from which they are built we have a tendency to see our stories, or histories as being of the realm of nature, rather than as human constructs…rather than as tools for creating our concept of ourselves. We believe in our stories as we believe in our identities as absolutes, as our know truths. The linear narratives of our lives is at the core of the perceived truth of ‘who we are’ as individuals, as Americans and as humanity, but the contradiction of life is that while the artifacts of stories may be recorded and retold as a linear narrative, nothing is known in a linear manner. Rather, everything that we know is constructed from fragments pieced together over time.
A series of nine prints based on the 9 US Senators that have been censured by the Senate in US history. This body of work explores the artificiality of historical, linear narratives in contrast to the fractured narratives of personal experience. This work was inspired by the absurdity of redacted government documents. In particular, I was struck by the CIA release in 2004 of a document on Waterboarding that is an entire page of edited text with the single phrase “water boarding” floating in a field of black.
These redacted documents become a mockery of the idea of transparent governance that the Freedom of Information Act attempts to protect and strike me as absurd artifacts of our national state of fear. These prints present personal narratives that I have redacted to the point that they can only be read in fragments, echoing the text’s original familial content while simultaneously evoking larger national narratives.
A series of 30 prints based on the theme of mannered sexual gesture. The primary imagery is drawn from popular culture and each print contains a hyper sexualized face and a QR code that encodes a 250 word personal narrative. The QR code can be read with a smart phone, but is otherwise indecipherable. In this case the text is obfuscated by technology continuing my interest in hidden sub-narratives. Each print is named after a rose that could possible be the name of a stripper. The series began with the rose Tipsy Imperial Concubine.
A sculptural installation including 24 digital photographs that document soil collection sites. This piece is an exploration of the connection between soil and familial ties. It is inspired by the fact that the dominant soil in the southeastern US is high in iron oxide, which gives it its distinctive red color. Ironically, iron oxide is the main colorant in hemoglobin, the metalloprotein in the red blood cells of all vertebrates, including humans. So, in the Southeast, soil is literally blood. It also explores themes of collecting, ecology, natural disasters and mapping.