"The illiterate of the future will be the person ignorant of the use of the camera as well as of the pen." -Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, 1936

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Photo Journal/Exercise 4: JUXTAPOSITION - Creating New Interpretations

One of the trade secrets or strategies of advertising and contemporary art is the unexpected juxtaposition of things unrelated to attract attention, shock, puzzle, or question people's perception of those things. We can look at Oliviero Toscani's works for example for the United Colors of Bennetton campaign.

This is just one example of many. And when we realize this, we can start to be aware that we are a part of the photograph, because as a viewer, we start to interpret what we see according to our background knowledge, and give NEW meaning(s) to the things posed together on the same scene/photo/frame. So meaning doesn't necessarily comes from the photo, but from the viewer.

A good example would be a Popeye action figure next to an olive fruit. Although these two are unrelated in the type of object they are, when juxtaposed together in the same scene the olive fruit gains new meaning (because of our knowledge of Popeye's wife's name "Olive").

The challenge is to create 10 new photographs that contain interesting/shocking/thought-provoking juxtapositions.
- All subject matters must be different.
- Also try to create unexpected or almost random juxtapositions, and not simply pairs of opposites, that create new meanings and makes the viewer thinks or tries to interpret it in different ways.
- Digital imaging or manipulation is allowed for this exercise. You could "force" your juxtapositions in Photoshop or staging them for the shoot. However, if you could capture juxtapositions as is seen on the spot, that might be better.

For those of you who are itching to get into DI, you can take a look at the works of Platinum FMD for examples. If you decide to manipulate your image, then you have to really be "extreme" in your juxtapositions.

And here are some examples of juxtapositions as seen on the spot...

Here you could see a dead cow and two living pigs in the same river. The cow is left to rot and the pigs are oblivious to the scene and just trying to survive. It gives a feeling of irony between the living and the dead. (Somewhere in Nepal)

Without trying to offend a certain belief... I entitled this Goddog/Doggod --playing with words, because of the juxtaposition of the dog and the dog-like statue. (Kathmandu)

There are three subject matters that are juxtaposed into this one frame; the clock, the modern skyscraper, and the old chapel. The juxtaposition creates a sense of time gap between the old and the modern. It's entitled "History", taken in downtown Chicago.