The influence of word and its relationship with imagery

Article by Nicola Manuel

Children will go out of their way to create their own world. This imagination is more than often captured through drawing, a talent that often becomes evident at a young age. You encounter objects from books, magazines and programmes filled with imagery, which jumps, shouts and excites the mind.. Children are also critical readers; if there is something mundane about a book, it will not be read or appreciated. A great story will be one that told through stories written and illustrated in a wonderful way.

It’s true, as children you want exciting things to look at and it is always these exciting things that capture the mind. As you develop and society helps grow your mind, styles of imagery are explored. As a child, you see the world through different eyes, eyes that haven’t been nurtured to what society teaches you, and this sight has an ever-so-slight influence on what you see and think.

Doorways open to new styles, but one particular style that captured my own eye was to use imagery and text together. Yes, it may not be classed as its own style but I appreciate it as well as others in society today.

This collaboration has long been in existence, dating back through the years. Take handwritten manuscripts for example, which brought together secular images with text.

Indeed through the years, imagery and text have often been placed together, in collage, photography, to media and advertisements. Where there is an image, text follows. Or quite possibly, the other way round.

Imagine yourself now. If you are a creative type then there’s a chance you might have visited an exhibition recently or flicked through a publication that captured your eye. When seeing a piece of work, the norm of the mind tends to expect an explanation to follow – whether this explanation be a solid piece of text describing the mediums, exploration and theory of the image or just a title.

Text so significantly alters an images’ meaning. When the text is devoid, there are no limits to the conclusion that the image displays. As your mind does not rely on any text, a personal point of view is released.

One body of work created by Willie Doherty that explores this notion is called Same Difference’. He took a photograph of a woman, and through means of a slideshow, projected different titles onto the image. Not only did this represent how strongly text inflicts on an image, but also how to incorporate a political message existent at the time. By uncovering language, it ended up highlighting societal issues, which had caused the initial problem.

So hang on, I started with children’s influences but I’ve ended with the relationship between text and image.

Does it work?

As a child you are influenced by images and text around you, from things that are read and heard. As adults, works are made to then be explained through text.

Funny how things turn on their head right?


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