There’s a line from Errol Morris’s essay “The Pianist and the Lobster” that’s been rattling around in my brain: “It’s hard to forgive yourself, really, if you’ve done nothing wrong.” (Also: it took me two reads through to realize that the two images above speak to each other.)
I become a little possessed when I read Lawrence Weschler’s Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences. Weschler finds threads between images and shows those images in juxtaposition. Once you start looking this way, you start seeing convergences everywhere.
Books — especially hardcovers that lie flat on a table — are the perfect medium to show such juxtapositions. The pages face each other, like a showdown. The gutter in the middle is a natural break that makes the argument. When you close the book, the images press up against each other.
These are just three random books I happen to have read this week. But after reading them, I’ve noticed a change in my noticing. Some detector has been tripped.
In just the past 24 hours, I took these 3 photos with my cameraphone:
Some juxtapositions are uncanny, some a little farfetched. It’s easy to get carried away. “Sometimes I think I may be getting a little ahead of myself,” Weschler writes, “but the world does keep showing me these pictures.”
The art of collage, for me, is mostly one of contextomy and juxtaposition: you put two things next to each other that aren’t really supposed to be together and you get a new thing. (1 + 1 = 3.)
I’ve been obsessed lately with the simplest cut: what’s the least amount of cutting or folding or editing that you can do for maximum effect?
I really got thinking about this when a woman in one of my workshops made the newspaper headline collage above. (An exercise from The Steal Like An Artist Journal.) It was so simple and funny it was like a gag out of a Nancy comic strip.
For a more visual example, here’s a picture of a sunset and moon that I took at the same time, but edited together with Instagram’s simple Layout program:
The simplest, cleverest expression of 1+1=3… that’s what I really love.