illogical lessons of Anna Karaulova

When I shared my previous article about lessons learned from my book workshop, Liz Vaughn commented on my social media shout-out: “For me, having been a graphic designer, the straightening and improving habit is ingrained”. Her comment really resonated with me and provided some wonderful food for thought; due to my training and work experience as an engineer and scientist has that ingrained certain habits in me?

Serendipity came to my rescue, as it seems to frequently happen when I open to my curiosity. While thinking about my ingrained habits, I was concurrently working on a a book review of Anna Karaulova’s artist book Rapid Eye Movement, recently featured on PhotoBook Journal. She is investigating dreams and dream-states and about what we recall of a dream that may seem very absurd. To help with her strange narrative about dreams, she purposefully chose to pair and sequence her photographs in an illogical manner, initially using a computer program to assist with the arbitrarily arranged order of images.

In my book workshop when discussing alternatives to image sequencing I include the possibility of being illogical (I use the concept of introducing ‘flashbacks” in a story line as an example), nevertheless I have problems with photobooks that appear to have an illogical sequence. Frequently I just don’t get it. Karaulova’s reason for pursuing an illogical sequence of images in her artist book is about the absurd (illogical) nature of dreams. Fortunately the night before I started this book review, I woke from a dream-state that was just that, an absurd and totally weird dream, such that I had pretty decent recall the following morning. So much so that while reviewing Karaulova’s book, I had another flashback to my dream and how illogical it was. Aha!

Probably the one thing that most technical people have in common is that they have a strong belief in working or thinking about something in a logical way. Probably the worst thing to say to an engineer about their solution to a technical question is that the answer is not logical. How many times have a I had that as my response to a technical answer, and if I am offered the same response of not being logical response in my answer, bells go off and I find myself scrambling to defend my logic. Yes, discussions can get heated. Thus the realization of an ingrained habit that I have; always appear logical!

This expands on another of my recent lessons that I had published earlier this week, about if I “correct’ the perspective of my images that in turn influences the potential meaning, both for the reader, as well as for myself. Likewise, now thinking about my habits that my photographs are suppose to be logical in content and subsequently when sequencing a book dummy that the order appears to be logical, in a specific order that makes sense (to me). But does it need to be that way?

I really love opening Pandora’s box of mysteries; if I can experience an illogical dream, then where else might I have incorporated or used illogical thinking? Might I be a lot more illogical that I would care to admit? I am thinking about the artist statement for Flow of Light Brush the Shadow and that this entire project might utilize illogic and dream-states to investigate anxiety.

Case in point is the photograph in this article, above; it is actually an illogical image involving an overlay of looking out while looking backwards at the same time. Human vision does not allow this to occur, but an image involving glass reflections are so common that we recognize what is being depicted as seemingly something logical. Same with the photograph in the prior article mentioned above; we accept as logical photographs that have extended exposure durations in which objects are blurred over time; but that is not an attribute of normal human vision. More illogic.

hmmmm. I like where this is going; I am a bit more illogical than I thought. Thank you Anna Karaulova!

Cheers

Doug

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Featured artwork, above; Hongqiao Nightscape #2373 (Flow of Light Brush the Shadow) copyright 2007 Douglas Stockdale

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Exhibition:

May 7th – 29th, 2021, Southeast Center for Photography (SEC4P), Greenville, South Carolina. A group photographic exhibition on the theme of Flora, juried by Wendi Schneider. Opening concurrent with Greenville’s First Friday events while there will not be a formal artists reception of this exhibition due to the pandemic.

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