VISUAL FIRST SENTENCES 2007
The following digital prints are an outgrowth of my abstract paintings on paper. They take familiar images and connect them in unfamiliar ways encouraging the viewer to “translate” them through their unique psychological understanding of how and why the images are related.
Because these separate images are faces, they carry a narrative weight and assume the role of protagonists. They function much like a first sentence in fiction. A first sentence in fiction pulls you into the narrative with “voice”, particularity of details and the unique and unexpected connection of those details. Take, for example the following first sentences:
“It was a queer and sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
“It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”
-Love in the Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems thrown into relief by poor dress.”
- Middlemarch by George Eliot
A first sentence elicits curiosity, concern and a quick analysis of the details that encourages us to read on.
In my prints the visual image is sometimes readily understandable, sometimes hyperealistic, sometimes abstracted, which I think of as the “voice” of the image. Then there is the issue of the relationship of the images, which requires analysis of the details. The format (the horizontal with image frames) resembles a filmstrip, which gives the viewer a sense that it should be read, like a movie, as an unfolding story. Inevitably each viewer will interpret the narrative’s potential story differently. Indeed one viewer’s interpretation will change depending on their mood or experience. I think of these images a visual first sentences.
When seen as a group, these images confront the issue of race tangentially. The heads are transparent, porcelain, Latina, African American and Hawaiian. The color of the faces are both extremely important and unimportant in the individual prints. As a group the issue of color is resonant but unresolved. They are after all, first sentences.