German graphic designer Mat- thias Jung continues his project “Surreal Homes”, of which he started with the use of paper and scissors as a child, and then continued with Photoshop. He creates dreamlike houses with his collage works that he pro- duces sometimes deconstructing the buildings he photographs and sometimes placing them on different backgrounds. We asked Jung things we’re curious about.
How did you start your project ‘Surreal Homes’?
My first surreal home of this series was an alternative shopping center. It was constructed out of many tiny shops in an art nouveau-quarter in Stuttgart. This project was an answer to two new shopping centers in town. I tried to combine the quality of “home” with the logic of the market. The image was so successful that I decided to construct more surreal buildings. The idea of combining architectural elements to a dreamlike construction is familiar to me: I built the first surreal home 25 years ago.
What was your motivation?
Not easy to say. Think about that: our consciousness depends on a complex hierarchy of filters. There are myriads of memories, feelings and associations in our brains. We only manage to act and think because an unconscious hierarchical system of filters deep inside us selecting the right elements to make them visible for our consciousness. Complex and unknown algorithms inside us help us to compose collages that we then call “world”. Making collages as an artist allows me to simulate this construction of reality. That’s thrilling.
What are the core elements of your design?
My collages resemble poems. I correlate the architectural elements like rhymes. I’m much more a poet than an engineer. At the beginning I need a vision, a core idea of a building. To get that vision I dream with open eyes. Wandering is a precondition. I spend much time to construct collages inside my head. A personal archive of photos helps me to do that.
Who are the artists and writers that influenced on you?
I adore the look-and-feel in the films of Theo Angelopoulos or Andrei Tarkovsky. And I’m strongly impressed by the books of Michael Ende, particularly his ingenious short stories. I love to read surreal science fiction.
What makes “dream” so important for you?
Good question. I think that’s just a special feature of my brain. I love to dive deep inside myself at the edge of consciousness. Believe me – that doesn’t make life easier.
I read you saying “…. a building has to first be stable and credible before I can add some ‘disorder’…” in an interview. Can you explain it more?
The credibility is very important. I could design absurd sensations. Photoshop is a good tool for that. But that would prevent the metaphorical quality of my collages. And I have to consider the rules of physics because I want to design something that tastes like reality.
You resurrected your childhood project, but this time with Photoshop instead of paper and scissors. What are your thoughts on the relationship between the art and techno- logic developments?
It’s the same with painting and photography. A new technique adds its logic to the artistic process. Photoshop is a fantastic tool to make fantasies visible. But it is also an allurement to play around and make lots of funny experiments. It may lead you to leave your sincere artistic approach. But at the end the quality of art is in its outcome. The artist has to be me – not Photoshop.
The majority of these photographs were taken during trips in northeastern Germany. Can you tell me about this trip? What did you see there?
There were four trips to Northeastern Germany so far. There I find the wide and melancholic landscapes for my houses. And also medieval towns. I study maps and Google Earth and visit the most interesting places by foot, bicycle and train. That’s all. I would love to visit more exotic places like Patagonia, Yemen or the Aleutan Islands. It’s a question of time and money. Since a few months I work together with Oliver Abraham, a journalist and photographer. He offers splendid photos from all over the world. I used some of his images as backgrounds in my collages. All the other elements in my collages are photographed by myself.
What are the cities and buildings you admire most in the world?
I love the small medieval towns in southern France. I’m not a believer but I admire Roman and Gothic churches. I feel something holy in them.
What is the most dystopic city to you?
I once have been in Norilsk in Northeastern Siberia. That is a real dystopic city.
If you have to choose one of your surreal houses to live in, which one would you choose?
I don’t want to live in any of my houses. Nobody wants to live within a dream. But if I have to decide I would choose the flying town in the collage “civilization”. I love the idea to travel in a house. It has something conciliatory: the combination of stability and security with freedom and easiness.