You Are Special



John Mulhern

I am interested in the potential of photography to question the nexus between the image and the word. Our urban word scape environment is saturated with language, often words or text unmoored from narrative and the connective tissue to meaning that we may seek. Photographs with embedded text present the viewer with an image where meaning is contingent, allusive, ambiguous. Words alone may evoke an image or images; images alone may evoke thought that is language-bound. Coexistent, their intended harmony or marriage is often at odds. “Reading” an image we may scan the image for understanding and then read the embedded text perhaps trying to synthesize the two. We may observe a hierarchy of one’s reading over the other: does text take precedence over the visual scan? Does the text undermine the visual? Is synthesis possible? Is coherence possible? The anchoring of text may subvert the visual as conversely, the visual may subvert the text. Thus, interpretation and meaning are challenged by such discontinuity within the frame. And we come back to asking: What does it mean to read our environment?