A recent blog post by Disphotic and coming back from the People to People Cultural Exchange in Havana with Cuban photographers at Fototeca via the Santa Fe Workshops, made me start thinking about images as a communication tool. Granted there are certain images that have cultural significance to many of us, but many times the creative intent of the photographer is not clear. To my way of thinking that's a good thing.
Although we share a certain "meta-culture" in the US, we are also shaped by specific familial patterns and heritages. What do you see in this abstract photo? If you see anything at all! I relate to it more on an emotional level with the right side of my brain, rather than trying to find a specific meaning with the left side. And there are many different variations on the meaning of this piece.
The same can be said about other genres of visual art - painting, encaustic, drawing and even performance. You bring your own meaning to the party. In a way it's kind of sad that people feel that they "have" to know the meaning of something that perhaps the artist has yet to learn. It would be great if people were free to allow the image to wash over them.
It reminds me of being in college in a literature class where a professor was expounding on the meaning of something, when I piped up and said that perhaps he felt that way, but there were other ways to read the work. Yes, I didn't last too long in that class.
For instance, is there a narrative or meaning in this photo I took in Havana?