Ghosts of Empire is a collection of collages created by Ben Gore, about the rise and fall of human civilization. The project is a group of visual vignettes which each deal with an issue that has plagued mankind on its quest for civility; whether it be war, environmental destruction, the loss of self, colonialism, and ultimately, death.
The collages were all created from found or unwanted magazines. The choice to use the medium of collage was made as an investigation into how waste materials could be reused creatively – instead of all this paper heading to a landfill, could it be used to create art? A collage maker searches for symbols within the images he is immersed in, much the same way a street photographer searches for meaning in the world around him. The images in Ghosts of Empire repurpose reportage of contemporary events into a grander comment on the state of contemporary man and his past.
The book itself is laid out chronologically. It opens with icons of the natural world and moves through time in a linear fashion. We travel through representations of tribalism, colonialism, to modern society and then beyond. The book opens with a scene showing the innocence of nature without man, a kitten and bird surrounded by the natural world. The next image is a time lapse of the dawn of man. A bird watches as he discovers fire, the stars, and space. The following images show mankind in conflict throughout history. It is in conflict with each other, with its environment and with itself.
The project is not only about how human civilization has developed, but also how humans have chosen to document it. These are found images used to explain our past, our present, and our possible future, and they show us as a violent, destructive species. It is a reputation we have rightly earned.
About the author:
Ben Gore is an artist based in Brighton. He studied photography at Nottingham Trent University. Since he graduated, he has self-published a number of books and zines. Most recently, he released his latest projects Goodbye, Blue Monday and Ghosts of Empire at an exhibition at Doomed Gallery in London. He also runs Blue Monday Press, a small arts publisher.