It will be the connectives and conjunctions that allow us to see oppositions more clearly, without dismantling them, minimising them or simply regarding them as irreducible. (Roberto da Matta – A casa & a rua [The House & The Street])
From the window of my house I can see two quite different spaces separated by a wall. On one side, an old cul-de-sac with crumbling asphalt. On the other, a recently constructed building, with a leisure area complete with swimming pool, ‘gourmet terrace’ and palm trees.
Over the months in which I observed the lives of others, I also witnessed numerous disagreements related to diametrically opposed political and religious positions. And so, in the midst of the intolerance that has cast such a cloud over the power of exchange and dialogue in our time, I decided that, rather than showing the differences between the two sides, I would bring them together.
With the intention of creating a zone of ambiguity in which both the wall and my own convictions would be broken down, I thus developed a series of strategies which, echoing the paradoxical aspects of human nature, would allow the two sides to engage with each other, to come together, to merge and to become reconciled – all the more so the greater the distance between people and their lives.
Creative Process / Reconciliation Strategies
To create the proposed zone of ambiguity I developed a series of strategies. My first experimental step was to alter formal qualities of the photographs to investigate how this reconciliation might come about. At a second stage, part of the research involved in creating a text, I began to experiment with matching a word or short phrase with each image. This was another operation designed to bring about a potential reconciliation between different semantics: image and word – thereby breaking down another wall and creating new symbolisms.
Below are further details of the strategies used:
1) I transformed the colour images into black and white since black is the sum of all the colours on the CMKY scale. It is the zone of ambiguity in which ‘everything’ is brought together.
2) I applied a mid-grey layer beneath the black and white images with the intention of balancing/reducing the contrasts between black and white.
3) I chose the square format for the images since it has equal sides and equidistant corners.
4) I chose synonyms, terms, expressions and analogies associated with the key words mixture, flexibility and uncertainty. The final list has a total of 328 items, thus creating a large collection of signifiers:
Mixture dressing, insertion, seasoning, ingredient, salad, tinge, infiltrate, babel, confusion, alloy, heterogeneity, hybridism, syncretism, eclecticism, elements, mixed, patchwork quilt, Noah’s ark, mosaic, dark, mestizo, knead, shuffle, weave, darn, patch up, mend, entangled.
Connection sewing, articulation, joint, attach, fraternize, include, assemble, connect, link, linking,(chain up/chain) add, interweave, match up, fix together, fix, sew, intimate, binding, ligament, intertwining, partnership, squeeze, coupling, copulation, hinge, (sewing) stitch, fill, hitch, inseparable, together.
Bond bow, knot, dash, parenthesis, chain, fastening, pin, cement, bridge, viaduct, dead knot, link, hyphen, umbilical cord, chain, belt, strap, nail, screw, tap and die, bracket, hook, adhesive, glue, sticky, tacky.
Cohesion linkage, adherence, partnership, viscosity, harmony, pact, in tune, embrace, curl up, attach oneself, unite, cement, weld, sticking, stickiness, reciprocal binding of molecules, suckerfish, cling (like an oyster to a rock), curl up in, joined together.
Combination blend, mixture, medley, contraction, fusion, impregnation, melt, synthesis, synthesise, incorporate, absorb, comprise, consist, concentration (as in assemble), amalgam, affinity, the intimate union of two bodies to obtain an entirely different body, cement (a union).
All group, whole, total, collectivity, mass, one, sum, form, gather together, a whole, from top to bottom, from tip to toe, from beginning to end.
Middle navel, heart, crux, interior, soul, kernel, mediate, polarity, even, dialogue, yin and yang, Siamese, Castor and Pollux, ambiguity, axis, equidistance, median, happy medium, plenitude, flesh, nucleus, intermediary, mediterranean, equator.
Meeting game, array, herd, harvest, rhyme, rally, assembly, miscellany, collection, shoal, heap, caravan, fauna, committee, jury, circle (of people), convene, agglutinate.
Duality intimacy, conversation, round table, two, duo, duet, figure and ground, both, exchange ideas.
Convergence union, congress, encounter, focus (meeting point), assemble, meet, headquarters (meeting point), joining together, be the receptacle.
Flexibility malleability, elasticity, resilience, bamboo, smooth, soften, loosen up, give in, softness, smoothness, pudding, pillow, feather mattress, quilt, soften up, slacken, pad, bend, curve, manageable, bend without breaking, change tack.
Uncertainty darkness, night, needle in a haystack, point to be clarified, raffle, form hypotheses, aimless, go round and round, blind man’s buff, disorientate, lose one’s bearings, excite curiosity, question, shaky, dubious, debatable, controversial, uncertain, undefined, chance, aimlessly, at random, suspect, doubt, hesitation, dilemma, indecision, fog, haze, mist, confuse, get lost in a sea of doubts, to doubt, ambiguity, ambiguas in vulgus spargere voces, fallibility, wandering, grope, scratch one’s head, lose oneself in conjectures, variable, slippery, unstable, just in case, who knows?, twilight, really?, lottery, fluctuate, trap, confuse, food for thought, open question.
Marriage union, cohabitation, living together, mixed marriage, other half, polygamy, change of status.
5) Finally I read out each word, noting which fitted each image in my judgement, in such a way that the word and image combined expanded each other’s meanings. The final result can be seen over here.