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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