Friday, September 5, 2008

Seagull: Symbolic Objects at Rest

Harnessing the Power of Symbolic Objects for Good

Some things I love about this photo:

1. Color
2. Allegorical Content
3. Center of Focus

Here is a palette of colors: aqua, deep cadet, dove gray, spackle white, matte steel, and yellow. Everything is cool, working toward a cohesive tone. It all belongs to the same landscape, a particular mood.

In this one image we have a seagull, an anchor, a boat, and the sea. All of these are literal things that are found in each other’s company, but they are all also supercharged with meaning when taken out of their ordinary context and say, for example, dropped into a Biblical quote or a Victorian morality story. What I love about this collection of symbols is that they act as themselves rather than the things they stand in for, so the immediate response is to the thing itself.

The center of focus on this photo is interesting—it works in some ways like a triptych. The seagull immediately gets attention, having the most animation, but the anchor is in the center of the photo. Behind the dull-colored anchor, the white muck that covers the boat is scraped away from a bright blue docking post.

My idea from this photo is a triptych, or a poem with three strong central images. I’d like to take a symbol, take it back to its literal object-ness, and surround it with two other objects from a scene that makes sense to its thing-ness. I think I’d put the weightiest symbolic thing in the middle, something alive in the first stanza, and a brilliant piece of landscape behind it. I’d be sure to fill in with details like texture (mud, grain, screen, dirt-spatter, nubble) and color.

Maybe I would suggest movement in the past, or movement about to happen, and name the poem “Still Life of a _____”

My example would be a wedding ring, a kitchen sink, and an insect on the window—maybe a grasshopper, a moth, or right now in Georgia, a pair of love bugs (which look a lot like two stink bugs doing it). Depending on which insect I gravitated toward, it would be a different poem. Right now I'm thinking, "Still Life of a Carpet Moth."

Thanks to Stock Xchange for the photo:

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