David Hockney, on most short lists of the greatest living artists is has continually moved across various art mediums with a slight-of-hand usually reserved for magicians. Pushing the boundaries of photography was certainly among them.
In the early 1980s, Hockney began to produce photo collages, which he called "joiners" first using Polaroid prints and subsequently 35mm, commercially processed colour prints. Using Polaroid snaps or photolab-prints of a single subject, Hockney arranged a patchwork to make a composite image. An early photomontage was of his mother. Because the photographs are taken from different perspectives and at slightly different times, the result is work that has an affinity with Cubism, one of Hockney's major aims—discussing the way human vision works.
"This is probably a closer description of how we see the world - from multiple viewpoints that are then pieced together" - David Hockney
While working on his photo collages, Hockney started to play around with studying movement. Unlike his other works, such as his portraits which represent the stillness of his subject, these collages show the movement of his subjects. His study began when he photographed a skater in New York.
He would take these images and create a photo collage that would show the movement of the skater through several different photographs. Hockney found that by working with photos and movement, he could explore the characteristics of a photograph as well as the challenges he faced to create the movement. One example of these collages is the Bill Brandt and his Wife, Noya 1982. This photo collage represents the two reacting to his process behind his photo collages.
Creation of the "joiners" occurred accidentally. He noticed in the late sixties that photographers were using cameras with wide-angle lenses. He did not like these photographs because they looked somewhat distorted. While working on a painting of a living room and terrace in Los Angeles, he took Polaroid shots of the living room and glued them together, not intending for them to be a composition on their own. On looking at the final composition, he realised it created a narrative, as if the viewer moved through the room. He began to work more with photography after this discovery and stopped painting for a while to exclusively pursue this new technique.
This direction was fairly short-lived and most of his work with Polaroid was produced in 1092. Hockney, frustrated with the limitations of photography and its 'one eyed' approach, then returned to painting.