One Day, Two Delays– an exhibition by Kathryn Best and Peter Suchin was an experimental amalgamation of image and text. The concept was to exchange paintings and photographs and give it context through a narrative. Viewers interpret visual works of art differently and by giving it a context they proved that even though the writer might not have absolute control of how the reader interprets the words – he/she can definitely provide a contextual anchor that can help the reader interpret it in a certain way.
When I walked into the gallery, I went to the last visual image of the series. When I read the narrative I realised that there might be a story linking all these images which sub-consciously redirected me to walk back to the first image that I had voluntarily skipped. This is a wonderful example of how the writer can control the readers experience. Even though I had complete freedom to read the story backwards, I chose not too.
“Thus, what I enjoy in a narrative is not directly its content or even its structure, but rather the abrasions I impose upon the fine surface: I read on, I skip, I look up, I dip in it again” (Barthes et al., 1975)
This excerpt from “The Pleasure of the Text” accurately describes the way I approached the exhibition. I was repeatedly reading, interpreting and perceiving the same visuals and narratives differently. I saw duality in the purpose of the narration. Even though, it was intended to create delays and disruptions to the visual flow, it acted as a thread linking all the images together. Some images had a strong connection to the text while some left it to the readers imagination which again brings in the concept of disruption but at a comprehensive level.
In reference to the images selected by Kathryn for Peter, I was analysing the reason behind choosing black and white images and if it influenced the way I perceived the text. I think, black and white photographs remove the element of time from images. The narrative of the dream quite beautifully described shapes, light and density. And, coloured photographs would not have been as powerful as it would have distracted me from focusing on the forms in the image. It added a magical mystery to the images that definitely kept me interested in knowing how the story would end. It is interesting to note that when I first saw the black and white photographs, I expected to read a philosophical story about a wanderer in Egypt in search of an answer but instead it was a science fiction story about two people discussing their dreams.
The images/paintings selected by Peter for Kathryn were rich in abstract forms and colours. There was a balance between the text and image. The text and the image were not trying to overpower each other. There was harmony in the abstraction even though each piece was so inherently different.
Overall, I think this exhibition encouraged me to think about how images can be moulded to mean different things just by using text but also understand that it is impossible to make the audience interpret your work in one particular way. The beauty of an image is its ability to become what the writer or the reader wants it to be. It has the power to foster imagination and critical thinking.
Barthes, R., Miller, R., and Howard, R.,(1975 ) ‘Edges’, The Pleasure of the Text. New York: Hill and Wang