Decoding Diptychs with Mori Insinger

The concept of Duality has intrigued physicists, mathematicians, economists and even common-man since time immemorial. Interpretations of people may be radically different but in simple terms duality is about interchangeability of subject's role/form/shape/behavior based on interpretation of an external unbiased observer. Whenever we see an artwork, an illustration, a photograph or a design-we usually process the information in its entirety and base our interpretation of artwork on colors we see, positive and negative spaces we observe, proximity of objects (esp. in photographs) we judge and mood the artwork elicits etc.

A while ago, while browsing my ART journal, I came across the word DUALITY (I had scribbled it many times on the same page!) and I was instantly reminded of talk by Mori Insinger, a Boston-based fine art photographer, at the Danforth Museum on 31-OCT-2009. I logged onto the artist's website, downloaded the photograph and once again found Mori's work mystical and very engaging. I decided to connect with Mori via the web to understand this series of photographs (Mori refers to them as DIPTYCHS) and relate it with what I've learned about ART so far.

Diptychs are dual-frame images that emphasize not just the elements in the photographs but even the space surrounding them. Mori writes:
  • "The Diptych Format is a way of consciously showing the context of a setting as much as the central 'subject' itself".
  • "The implicit boundaries and inherent grooming within a setting are part of an aesthetic which speaks to how inhabitants within an environment present themselves unto others."

Based upon my conversation with Mori, here's a brief summary this specific Diptych, which I found simply fascinating:

  • Setting: The images for the diptych "Ginza District, Tokyo, Japan" featuring an upper-class fashion boutique, were made on a late summer evening in 2006 and the print was made in 2007.
  • Balance: On one hand bright lights, subtle feeling emanated by glass, concrete, stone, and asphalt gives this Diptych a tangible & tough look. On the other hand transparency of the building and amalgamation of bright & dark colors gives it a warm inviting tone.
  • Perspective: Eyes are drawn towards the diagonal lines emerging from center on either side and a sense of depth is developed right away.
  • Contrast: Image on the left of the boutique shows the street buzzing with people and activity as against the serene lifeless image on the right hand side.
  • Relationship: The image as a whole makes the viewer ascertain and evaluate the nature of relationship between organic (people) and inorganic (building, lights) elements.
  • Aesthetics: Fashion Boutique, the central element in the Diptych, together with distinctive boxed glass windows, concealed lighting and surrounding void space gives a sense of style and aspirations of upper-class fashion enthusiasts.
  • Energy: This Diptych certainly has a profound visual energy, which results in instant analysis process by the viewer (What's going on here?)

In our tightly packed suburbs and cities, it can be difficult to spot the 'beautiful subjects' that live in our midst and perhaps that's why most of us escape to far flung places when we take vacations hoping to break away from our otherwise fast-paced complex lives. But the moment we realize that we share cities with several other elements - animals, museums, playgrounds, shopping malls, schools and churches etc. and that we have an important role to play in this grand ecosystem of life, we start developing a deeper connection with nature, with fellow human beings and with our environment. In that respect, Diptychs are just the right messengers and reinforce the fact that our environment is much more than a simple combination of the tangible things we've acquired (vehicle, house, music player) and we can learn to become a part of this beautiful, complex, and exciting world once we start observing aesthetic subjects in our immediate environment!

While you are on Mori's website (spc. aspiring photographers)-do check out Mori's other impressive projects (Landscapes and Panoramas) too. His ability to capture vibrant colors, unseen objects and put them all together to create visually inspiring photos is extraordinarily inspiring indeed!

"What is important to my work is the individual picture. I photograph stories on assignment, and of course they have to be put together coherently. But what matters most is that each picture stands on its own, with its own place and feeling."Steve McCurry

[Images Courtesy-© Mori Insinger, Dedon]

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Embrace Life...

What an incredible visual way to convey to communicate a simple yet powerful message of "SAFETY FIRST". Sheer genius indeed !
"The world is but a canvas to the imagination."~Henry David Thoreau

Celebrating Love!

Valentines Day can be so much fun! Like Christmas, it seems to offer just the right opportunity to step away from our busy lives and express our sincere affection towards people we value most in our lives-our parents, our siblings, our cousins, our friends and those who exhibit positive vibes and encourage us to become better individuals year after year.

We did a small exercise in Ashland, MA this Saturday - the idea was to create a mini-clip of max 15 sec duration to convey the essence of Valentines Day. We were simply amazed at the clips participants (mostly kids) came up with! Interesting thing to note though was the profound use of flowers (sunflowers, lotuses and roses), hearts, green leaves and vibrant colored butterflies. With no formal ART training, kids naturally seem to associate LOVE with nature's beautiful creations and with bright colors-I wonder how or why? But yes-it was just amazing to be amongst kids, who usually stay curious, bold, cheerful and sporting, yet again!

{VDay - 2010}
As you set out to celebrate Valentines Day in your own special way, for a moment disconnect yourself from your problems/worries and bond with the individual(s) you are with, give him/her/them your 100% attention and if possible perform some selfless act of kindness just for fun! Believe me you'll remember it up until next Valentines day :) And if you intend on staying home and spend Feb 14th as just another normal day, check out some cool websites centred around deep human bonding and love-Lovelines, Wefeelfine, Team Love and FreeHugsCampign etc.

Happy Valentines Day :)
"Good works are links that form a chain of love."~Mother Teresa

[Image Courtesy-© Lovelines]


Going Solo...

Ever since I came to Framingham and attended a guided tour at Danforth Museum of Art, I was keen on giving a tour myself perhaps sometime in Winters of 2010. Looks like the opportunity came well in advance :) I was supposed to shadow a tour today but owing to some last minute changes, I learned that I am supposed to conduct a Public Tour solo! Now, being excited about ART or reading ART books is one thing, doing a public tour is an entirely different experience. You don't know about your audience's background, you have near zero idea of how much time viewers would like to spend listening to you, their moods or state of minds, their expectations from museum etc-there are just too many variables in the process, which can impede a new docent's enthusiasm and confidence in more than one ways :D

Anyways at sharp 1 PM, as the tour commenced, I took the viewers into (my fav) Morgan Bulkeley gallery and after brief introductions started probing visitors with questions. The VTS style worked yet again and within 5-7 mins I could feel a personal connection with the viewers, which simplified conducting rest of the tour. We discussed what artworks can tell us about people, lifestyles and beliefs from various times and cultures. We shared a common concern with our modern day consumeristic culture, which seems to be a visible impediment in our collective progress towards living a happier, healthier and adventurous life.

The tour lasted for about an hour and we covered works by Morgan Bulkeley, Gerry Bergstein and David Arinson in the hour long tour. In retrospect, I'd say I had a great time, learned so much more about the artworks I've seen almost 20 times by now, exchanged some great ideas and carried with myself a bagful of pleasant memories for the days to come.

For the benefit of those of you who haven't visited us yet, in short here's a quick snapshot on our Public Tours:
  • Danforth Museum offers docent led public tours on first-weekend of every month.
  • Museum admission is FREE with Museums On Us™
  • Our tours are full of surprises and we try hard to meet expectations of our visitors.
  • Public tours stress critical thinking, observation skills, and creative evaluation through close examination and discussion of artworks from our permanent and rotating exhibits.
  • Our museum is handicapped accessibleand we give extra attention to special needs of our visitors.

Hope to meet some of you in person at the museum soon :)

The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing.~Sigmund Freud

[Image Courtesy-© FraminghamNavigator]


Learning can be...

simplified and made fun - not always though :-)

Whenever I see the documentation that comes alongwith Enterprise Software Products, I always wonder why do companies create an impression that understanding of their products is such an uphill task? This is how the standard learning life-cycle goes when one sets out to learn a new software tool or product:

  • You download all the whitepapers and documentation about this cool new software product (DB Security Tool, DWH Reporting Tool, Analytics Tool etc)
  • You open one of the PDFs and find the Index extending to first 10-12 pages. Using the Index Section and sub-sections hyperlinks, one can locate information read fast,which is cool indeed.
  • You finally make your way to the content only to be presented with tons of verbiage and references to other sections in the PDF or sometimes references to other PDFs too :(
  • You spend some time trying to navigate elegantly through the PDF and couple of minutes later you declare that it's better to learn the tool by experimentation rather than going through this seemingly infinite documentation.
  • As you experiment, you make some notes, some illustrations and once you gain a firm grip on this new tool/technology, you realize that it wasn't rocket science afterall!

    And then you wonder why do some folks/companies create this "Illusion of Complexity" rather than coming up with creative ways to enhance the learning process!

    During our weekly docent meeting at Danforth today, we were presented with a quick walkthrough into "Sculpting Process" during presentation on Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller-the multi-talented African American artist, we were shown the sculpting tools-brushes, rubber, casting, mallot etc and a visual demonstration (Thanks Julia!) on how sculpting works. In less than 10 minutes we could understand not just the basic sculpting process but we could relate it to Meta Fuller's biograhy and work we read earlier too. This reinforces my views about "Visual Thinking". I strongly believe that under right circumstances, our brains can absorb so much more information visually and quickly when compared to the conventional "Read and Understand" style of learning.

    To illustrate a quick example, think about how best you can explain a scientific process say "Photosynthesis" to a person from a totally non-science background. I found several descriptions about "Photosynthesis" for example...

    • Photosynthesis consists of light reactions and dark reactions. This process can be simplified in this equation: 6CO2+12H2O + Light Energy → C6H12O6 + 6O2 + 6H2O.(Source ~ Biology Online)
    • The conversion of light energy into chemical energy in cells that contain chlorophyll, a green pigment. Photosynthesis occurs in most plants and algae and in some bacteria and protozoans. The process is also called carbon fixation......(Source ~ Howstuffworks)
    • In green plants, light energy is captured by chlorophyll in the chloroplasts of the leaves and used to convert water, carbon dioxide, and minerals into oxygen and energy-rich organic compounds (simple and complex sugars) that are the basis of both plant and animal life. Photosynthesis consists of a number of photochemical and enzymatic reactions. It occurs in two stages..... (Source ~ Britannica)

    Now take a look at the image above or this demo and see for yourself the simple practice of using pictures to understand Photosynthesis! Oh and if you like visual thinking take a look at this visual primer on The Art Of Complex Problem Solving.

    "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."~Leonardo da Vinci
    [Image Courtesy-© Factmonster]