A Visual Chord

image 1


The art historian Barbara Maria Stafford (1999) noted that the creators of the first Wunderkammer were employing visual analogy and "the connective aspects of cognition" in so arranging their objects (p. 138). That is, they were demonstrating the mind's ability to see similarities in the midst of difference, “to couple data that is not effectively or invariably coupled by causal laws” (p. 169) When artists use collage techniques, when filmmakers employ montage effects, or, indeed, when conceptual artists arrange and assemble visual images, they are playing with the mind’s perceptual need to connect and find patterns between the seemingly disparate. (The idea of the Wunderkammer is explored in richer detail in a 2009 Kairos piece by Susan Delagrange.)

The perceptual effects produced by the juxtaposition of three images in this webtext is not unlike the effect of playing three musical notes simultaneously. This act produces a chord, an emergent aural effect that was not present when listening to the notes in isolation. The historical argument of this webtext emerges by evoking a similar sort of visual chord in the mind of the viewer. (Perhaps we might understand this webtext as a kind of visual music?)

image 2
image 3