Last week’s assigned readings came from Teju Cole’s “Known and Strange Things.” We were to read two essays, one titled “Poetry of the Disregarded” and the other “Memories of things Unseen.” Both were wonderful, thought provoking reads but, It was the second one, “Memories of things Unseen” that really caught my interests.
It spoke of the strange impact of photography on memories and the possible problems associated with it.¹ It brought up something I had never really considered in it’s discussion about the hard to distinguish line between visual notation and surveillance. Images are something that has the potential to remain forever and it is a bit weird to think of all of ours still lingering in a database somewhere for years after the initial image was taken. The issue really affects this newer generation as we’re the ones with the most digital images out there.
Kinda chilling and Super weird, right?
But now I want to switch gears and talk about another thing mentioned in the essay. In the beginning, the author speaks of a photo they encountered at an exhibition. The photo was caught their attention due to the fact that at first glance it appeared to simply be a blown up view of a forest. But, on closer inspection, the photo was actually discovered to be one of a model of a forest. It was something that seemed like one thing only to be another. Something that was not quite what our eyes told us it was.
This strange something made me think of a similar situation I encountered with the works of artist Vik Muniz. You can read about Muniz here, but a lot of his pieces are not what they first appear to be.
Take this beautiful portrait titled, “Valentine, The Fastest” created by Muniz in 1996
A simple gorgeous drawing? Nope. This thing is made out of sugar. Wild right? He actually made a complete series of these featuring different children of sugar plantation workers he met in Saint Kitts. Muniz has done other pieces and series with unusual supplies, some including trash, chocolate syrup and thread.
All are beautiful but all have that same strange effect. Something that seems like one thing at first but is actually something else.
1. Cole, Teju. Known and strange things: essays. New York: Random House, 2016. Print.
1. Muniz, Vik. Valentine, The Fastest. 1996. Vik Muniz. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.