Sunday, 7 December 2008

Multiple realities of an image

Wartime public information poster (1940s UK )

The shoe form in the image exists as both a shoe and the horse's body, simultaneously and separately. The image is a poster designed to attract attention, the dual existence of the shoe form serves to induce a conceptual frisson because of its doubled function. But there are other levels of interpretation required: there is the level of pixels constructing an image (on the computer screen); the ink and the paper, interpretable as an image as a whole; the level in which it reads as a wartime poster, an object of historical and nostalgic interest; an example of a certain style of graphic art; an attempt to make light of an often grueling and inconvenient condition of wartime living; the intimation of different modes of getting about, one aided and another not; the shoe leather serving also as horse's coat, as the lace acts also as rein. It's less that these multiple realities unite in one image than the single image exists in multiple, distinct states. It's actually doubtful that this really is a 'single' image, in the sense that it consists in just one thing.