combining pairs of pictures

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by photoriot, Jun 1, 2016.

  1. From early on, I have been drawn to looking at photos in pairs, in facing pages of my albums, or sequentially in slide shows at work or for my friends. Something addictive goes on in me when I hold two pictures in mind and search for commonalities between them. I wonder if anyone else gets such a kick out of it? Here are two photos that have some level of visual correspondence for me - does the combo seems meaningful to anyone else?
  2. That's a good pair, Bill. I'm not crazy about the captions, but the visual combination gets good friction for me.
    Are you interested in discussing well-known photographers who work in series (Ralph Gibson, Minor White)? Or would you prefer to stay local?
  3. Thanks Julie. Links to other examples would be great, local or otherwise. Here's another that works somewhat with the rock for me.
  4. Bill, I find what binds your three photos when I see them together is a sense of their showing figure-ground perceptual shifting. The classic example is the two black vases side by side on a white background, where sometimes instead of two black vases we see a white face in the middle. The edging of the shapes in all three photos creates that sort of cut-out look where the negative space seems to take on the feeling of a subject when looked at a certain way.
    To answer your question, yes, I think putting different photos side by side can be very eye-opening which I am struck by every time I reorganize my PN portfolio, and when I recently put together my first gallery show and as I'm currently working on a book. Relationships of photos add layers and layers to viewing them individually.
    Slightly different from selecting random photos to juxtapose in order to see what happens, early on, a photographer friend talked about the importance of three and I've probably been influenced by that. I often find that three portraits feels right in trying to come to grips with photographing people and arrive at something resembling and conveying who the person is. I also like working in series, so have done a few series that seem to be comprised of three photos creating a narrative.
    Here are three photos of Gerald:
    GERALD 1
    GERALD 2
    GERALD 3
    And here is a series of three photos I call SHAVE.
  5. Thanks Fred. With the GERALD photos, not seeing them together prevents me from building up a composition, and seeing them serially has more human interest than juxtaposition interest for me. However with SHAVE, seeing them together and looking at how the figures relate within the pics and from pic to pic is exactly the sort of thing I enjoy. When I see juxtaposed photos of people looking different directions, I like to correlate all the directions of gaze and gauge the angles between them. I'm attaching a pic that sort of creates the effect on its own.
  6. Ralph Gibson is, IMO, a genius at playing with image pairings. Here are six pairs of his, as he wanted them to be seen:
    Pair one
    Pair two
    Pair three
    Pair four
    Pair five
    Pair six
    Writing of Gibson's combinations, Ray Merritt puts it thus:
    Neither straight nor romantic, not simulated nor journalistic, neither conceptualistic nor luminist, he has successfully evaded classification, settling somewhere between abstraction and realism and, within that band he works his craft, assembling the pieces of a visual mosaic ... Gibson's pairings are like caffeine to the senses.
    ... Gibson's work is not easy. There are no titles to serves as semantic guideposts. However, the internal combustion of his couplings ignites our imagination.​
    From Bruce W. Ferguson, talking about Gibson's aims:
    ... hidden within the hope to change a subject forever ambered into an object; hidden within the hope to map a terrain of empirical events in a diagram etched in sliver; hidden within the hope to cryogenically immobilize face-to-face encounters lies the endless exhilaration of desire itself. ... To photograph is to value that which is ephemeral and that which is eternal, simultaneously. To photograph is to know that the capture is always incomplete and unfinished. Yet to photograph is to know that the capture is also the beginning of an oscillation toward the only knowledge possible ...​
    From Gibson himself, talking about why he uses pairings:
    In music there is a theory that states that a given tone once struck releases additional tones called overtones, which cannot be directly struck on the instrument but are the result of other tones mixing at the same time. I consider two page spreads or two photographs matted for exhibition to be essentially "Overtones" and will then relate to the overall impression the work produces rather than literally reading the photographs at their face value. ... The images reverberate infinitely back and forth creating a hall of mirrors in the mind.​
  7. Wow, thanks Julie! Aside from the stellar quality, it is interesting how he uses different sizes effectively, which goes beyond what I have done. I have been mulling over adding a side-by-side approach to my website (now an interactive slideshow), and this really tempts me. You would click on either picture and have it be replaced by another (chosen by the image matching software or keywords).
  8. The examples of Gibson are great and evocative. He is the artist and his words are felt, grounded, and make sense. The other two writers don't get it.
  9. Billy Kenrick has posted several pairs of photos here on Unfortunately he doesn't have any in his gallery right now, but you can see them by using the wayback machine. For example:
  10. I have been trying to exploit the "hall of mirrors in the mind" effect with my software to create a low level artificial intelligence, but one problem seems to be that people don't know what to look for in it. Another issue is that juxtapositions are based only on various types of similarity, without the more complex balance of considerations achieved by Gibson. One hope if the site ever gets popular is to analyze click data and find the pairings that give people the most pause, and form these into sequences with optimal impact.
  11. One hope if the site ever gets popular is to analyze click data and find the pairings that give people the most pause, and form these into sequences with optimal impact.​
    I could be misunderstanding what you're suggesting, but wouldn't this achieve the opposite of what Gibson did, your algorithm using a most common denominator instead of an imaginative one? Gibson nudged us toward a way of seeing, he didn't confirm what we were already doing.
  12. Thanks Julie for bringing these pairing photos of Ralph Gibson to our attention. Did not know any of them before. Great quality. Very inspiring. Fine Art.
  13. Fred, good point that there would be a likelihood of choosing popular combinations. It's definitely a crude method compared to picking photos oneself, but I think it would turn up interesting stuff, some of which would be comparable to Gibson. I guess in a way crowd sorting has already flagged Gibson as a photographer to remember, just over a longer time than it would take if millions were exploring a 'brain' full of pictures all the time.
  14. I wonder if anyone is working on getting these books on the web in our lifetimes. Without the impetus of the book spine, paired pics may fade from our unsilvered experience. The Harvey book is a tour de force that couldn't even be approximated on the web, and reminds me in its complexity of how I was driven to computers after putting my first few simpler books together. I find the visual combinations less interesting; the material and detective story-like concept are what carry it.
  15. Something will always be lost, I fear everything, if time is allowed to proceed. E.g. I'm torn between 'rescuing' the pair by putting up a pairs solitaire-style page, and working on better matching in the slide show I have.
  16. 'Series' as compared to 'drift.'
    I ran across this while reading a book about an artist (not a photographer) who enthusiastically embraced the latter. It seems to me the comparison applies well to what Bill Ross is doing as compared to what Ralph Gibson has done. A series is a 'making.' Drift is different.
    Series. One of Gibson's books is called 'Syntax' which means "the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language." He is assuming a language. The music that he analogizes is not noise/sound, it's composed music, formed into a coherent 'sentence(s).' Enunciating.
    Drift. Drift is discovered by throwing lots of pieces of paper onto the water and seeing the underlying currents revealed by their meanderings or swirlings; stoppings and startings. Metal filings dropped onto a magnetic surface. Revelation, surfacing of forces behind/under/insidious/relentless/unnoticed/occult. Drift is the ambient sound of the city; the random scents of the day; the sensual appearances of the ecology of life. It's evolutionary, as opposed to teleological. Being made by/in the world rather than making 'a' world.
    Reading Bill's last post, "Something will always be lost, I fear everything, if time is allowed to proceed. E.g. I'm torn between 'rescuing' the pair by putting up a pairs solitaire-style page, and working on better matching in the slide show I have," seems to me to put him (without his intending it) squarely in the world. Gibson is working with the timelessness of music and language, where Bill is in time, change, loss.
  17. I am exposing a lot more of my process than Gibson, perhaps. But I am looking for novel results to be generated long after I'm dead - I'm trying to create a process rather than a finite set of combinations, the conceptual light in an AI's eye. I guess I'm shifting the subject to William Gibson (Neuromancer), but either way I'm laying every claim to timelessness I can, consistent with buying groceries and taking out the trash. The big difference between me and both Gibsons so far is in the results.
  18. Another similarity with Ralph Gibson is that I want to create a language of pictures, but I want it to emerge from many people's viewing and photographing experience as well as my own, to approach universality by crowd sourcing. It may also be relevant that my first love was dance, so I am predisposed to a dynamic experience. (That's why I have a 'live' DNA simulation tied to my slide show, receiving clicks and modulating picture choice.) Perhaps what I have now is guided drift (since there is user choice), but if I reach my goal it should feel like something is talking the language of friction with you in the moment.
  19. Here are results from some image matching algorithms to a reasonably interesting starting shot. I haven't figured out how to use these particular methods in the slideshow yet.
  20. Closest color distance (Lab CIE94).
  21. Hue and Saturation 12x12 histogram match.
  22. Hue and Saturation 24x24 histogram match.
  23. 'Gist' general-purpose matching algorithm.
  24. 'Sift' image matching algorithm.
  25. 'Surf' image matching algorithm
  26. 'Hog' image matching algorithm
  27. Tick, tock
    A little on Rauschenberg, that I think is relevant:
    Rippling out from this comes the idea of the photographic versus the cinematic, collage, montage, and bodies in motion, which is to be found in ... Rauschenberg's entire production, including his collaborative endeavors in the realm of performance with figures such as John Cage, Merce Cunningham ... Rauschenberg's use of photography is not only as a source of inspiration and raw material but is also a methodological tool that itself becomes both the subject and object of his work ...
    ... And what are cameras, asked Roland Barthes ... if not "clocks for seeing"? ... "Hence, strangely, the only thing that I tolerate, that I like, that is familiar to me, when I am photographed is the sound of the camera. For me, the Photographer's organ is not his eye (which terrifies me) but his finger: what is linked to the trigger of the lens, to the metallic shifting of the plates (when the camera still has such things). I love these mechanical sounds in an almost voluptuous way, as if, in the Photograph, they were the very thing -- and the only thing -- to which my desire clings, their abrupt click breaking through the mortiferous layer of the Pose."
    [line break added] Barthes continues: "For me the noise of Time is not sad: I love bells, clocks, watches -- and I recall that at first photographic implements were related to techniques of cabinetmaking and the machinery of precision: cameras, in short, were clocks for seeing." Eleven years before Barthes's elision of the mechanical into the voluptuous, Rauschenberg's Carnal Clocks series of 1969 seemed to indicate an instinctual awareness of this overlap between the temporal and visual; between the capturing click of a camera's shutter and the insistent ticking of the clock, both relentless reminders of death.
    [line break added] Using photographic silkscreens of various genitalia arranged in a gridlike format on Plexiglass-fronted boxes, which then flicker and pulse thanks to a concealed clock mechanism beneath, Rauschenberg's works mark time, pace it out, endlessly defer pleasure and resolution, count down to a climax that never comes.
    Nicholas Cullinan, in Robert Rauschenberg: Photographs 1949-1962​
    Back to Ralph Gibson:
    In the long life of a city each man on the street becomes his own archeologist.
    Either within or without the motions of society at large, the art object and thus the artist must determine precisely their own velocity. This is the first autonomy. In the last 100 years the horizon has moved consistently forward from the landscape to the stage to the cinema to the televisions to the laptop to the hand device.
    A perfect photograph would express neither life nor art, rather define an in-between.
    Ralph Gibson
    I like your posted photographs, above, all together in the particular sequence in which they are posted. Does that contradict your hopes for them?
  28. Does that contradict your hopes for them? I hope the pictures in this context illustrate the tantalizing nature of algorithmic matching and on the side, the fun of in-betweening all of the pics together, so it is fine with me that they work as a collection, and it illustrates that there is a little gold there to be mined, like bitcoin (Sift/Surf/Hog cost me $200 of rented server time).
    As a dancer I leaned more to the strong inner motivation of Martha Graham (she dubbed my teacher "a gifted technician") than the external, environmental approach of Cunningham and others, that seemed too noncommital and ponderous to me. And now my goal isn't to produce atmospherics, it is to create a perception of a concrete, living creature. God or not, I do throw dice, and all the work goes into choosing weights for the choices that are then randomly selected.
    I'll throw the dice and pick another picture to query on, to see what the next collection is like.
  29. Lab distance
  30. Hue, Saturation: 12x12 histogram AND 24x24 histogram
  31. Sift and Surf
  32. The Buddha pic is by my collaborator Elle. In both series I find the Gist choice the most surprising.
  33. Interesting to note that the editors change content without notification - description of and links to my image matching site have been removed from this thread. Since photos seem to survive, I'll try posting a *sequence* of matches, from my own keyword-based software this time, instead of a set of matches to a single picture using different image matching algorithms.
  34. 'tree' again
  35. It often follows themes: 'tree' again.
  36. New theme: round orange.
  37. Now it's 'yellow'.
  38. And now 'sign':
  39. Next I tried the 'opposite' option:
  40. Back to similar (leaves):
  41. Leaves..

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