Brooklyn-based artist Dustin Yellin can be defined as first and foremost a collage artist. Having had his works displayed at various places, his pieces tell stories that weave together the diverse forces of nature, human life, and the technology they create. His pieces combine found materials, paint, and photographs on sheets of glass, creating sculptures out of a traditionally 2D medium, reflecting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for Responsible Consumption and Production.
Yellin’s eponymous series, titled Psychogeography, charts the impact of different natural and human-adjusted landscapes on the human body and mind. He spews them back out by cutting and pasting found images of these realities into a 1:1 scale human body, creating often chaotic and cluttered scenes that aren’t always pleasant and yet beautiful, while also bringing attention to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for Life on Land and Climate Action.
Along with paper, other materials such as paint, metal, rocks, and wood can also be found in Yellin’s collages. According to the artists, he uses anything else that can show the interconnectedness of each existence in the universe.
For instance, Yellin’s Gravity’s Slingshot shows a humanoid figure submerged to its knees. The figure’s body is flooded to the chest, culminating in two waterfalls that rejoin a fictional knee-length body of water the figure is standing in. Spilling out of the figure’s chest are various Lilliputian figures that swim about and dive from the waterfalls. At the figure’s heart sits a lone island in a sea of trash that intertwines with corals and fish alike.
The island boasts a singular tree, from which primates sit perched, engaged in all sorts of tomfoolery with people sitting around the tree. The moment his viewers take the time to look at its individual elements, the work feels like a protest against marine debris and trash. However, if one were to view it at a glance, they would most likely marvel at how beautiful this human body is with two waterfalls coming out of its chest.
Yellin's utilization of found materials serves as his means of preserving the world exactly as it is for humans, akin to collecting souvenirs from a noteworthy trip abroad. This action enables him to detach from the present reality, as it involves perceiving the world through the memories embedded in these found objects.
Likewise, Navel of the World (2021), which, as its title suggests, is a humanoid figure with Earth as its navel and its head, is another gargantuan planet that contains enough gravity pulls to create tidal waves around its neck, which has been fashioned from a glacier.
On the glacier, Lilliputs dance gracefully amidst equally tiny Arctic fauna, while carefree fish float about beneath the surface. This piece is less chaotic, but the arctic wildlife clinging hopelessly to the glacier is enough to give anyone climate anxiety.
Dustin Yellin’s collaged universe in Psychogeography is contained within a human body, which he describes as a montage of mental projections where icons, thirsts, dreams, and even nightmares congeal as physical, humanoid shapes. Each work creates a network of picture puzzles that, when looked at, create allegories that link minds and bodies to the world and back.
Indeed, collage has a way of allowing viewers to follow various associations that may appear to be random at first to investigate embodied emotions as well as their shared collective society and infrastructures, both natural and man-made. Hence, Yellin sees that his collages on glass act as artificial fossil trappings, “like a prehistoric fly in amber,” playing with how nature exists within everyone and everyone exists in nature, even more so when one looks back on them as memories.