In music overtones are the natural parts of any pitch heard when it is sounded. In other words each pitch that we hear contains addition pitches within it that are termed overtones or harmonics. Ralph Gibson put out a book of diptychs which he titled, Overtones. His thesis being that the interpretation of a photograph can be affected by what image is next to it or even which image comes before or after in a series.
As someone who has a great interest in creating photo books, I took this idea for granted. But I have been thinking about this a little more deeply recently. The human mind has evolved (yes I believe in Evolution god dammit) to see and create patterns even when a pattern may not be present. That is just the tip of the mental iceberg. It seems (from what I have been reading and listening to) that the human mind has a great capacity for creating whole realities from scraps or partial views. In other words, if you put a bunch of random objects in front of a person and tell them that the objects are all inter-related, the person will make up a story or some reality that will connect all of the objects!
This is true with photographs. Take a pile of images and give that same pile to any number of people and tell them to put the images in some order that makes sense to them, you will get any number of different series of the same images. I saw that a few years back at an event Daido Moriyama held at Aperture Gallery. He put up a large number of images on the gallery wall and asked participants to select 20 (or 25, I forget) images and put them in an order. He then took photocopies of the images and bound them along with a silkscreen cover. Voila, you and he created a personal, Daido Moriyama photo book. In an interview, Moriyama said that he enjoyed looking at the books thus created because he could tell a lot about the person who created the series.
My main reason for starting to write this was to put a question forward to myself and any reader of the blog; how much control does an artist really have when creating a series of images. As an artist you may have control over the pacing of the images or the overall theme (lots of pictures of death or couples or still lives of rotting fruit…) but in terms of the specific order how much control do you even need to have?
I wonder if I could create an interactive show and/ or book that would highlight this phenomenon. Using the series I am working on at the moment, “A Walk In The Park”, I could see creating a set of images at a modest size, say 8 x 10 and mounting them in such a way that makes it easy to move them from one spot on the wall to another while still keeping them in a predetermined line on the wall, maybe magnets and a metal strip mounted on the gallery wall. Each person or small group would be allowed to go in and move the images around to create their own personal sequence. They could re-arrange them or even leave out images.
You could order a catalog (through blurb or similar) where your personal sequence is printed and bound. Or I could even create and print out sets of images where a book could be created from on the spot. Images chosen, cover chosen and then stapled together much like the Moriyama event.
Mainly I am thinking out loud here but I wonder what the response would be?