Text on an office wall in the form of a typewriter’s keys can enhance the meaning of the place where it hangs. Office…typewriter appear to be a word pair that states the obvious with nostalgia and letter play. Playing with text in art–word play–has its place in art photography.
A while back, I developed a concept that collectors’ items are popular in photography because an image of a collector’s item such as a vintage typewriter or neon sign is more sensible to have as an image hanging on the wall than an item on a shelf.
Images take up less space and don’t collect as much dust as the revered items a collector acquires. And pondering the thought, when you hang an image of a collector’s item on a wall, you’ve changed its shape, form and purpose. It moves from the realm of clutter to minimalist art work, a sole object within the picture frame.
Add some text to the image, text that keeps the viewer’s attention longer than a cursory glance, and the art work transforms into word play akin to Shakespeare’s quibbles (puns).
From Aesop to Alice in Wonderland plays on words make an active participant out of the reader. Just as writers, musicians and comedians use word play in their text, so, too, can art photographers. By being constantly aware of text in the environment, a skill that requires a keen eye and sharp wit, the sharp-shooter can incorporate word play into their craft.
Art photographers should not be shy of joining the ranks with those in other creative endeavors by incorporating word play into their work.