How are you supposed to read a picture? I know with words you go left to right and the spaces tell you where the words are, but with pictures, where do you start? Is there a way to tell if you have picture literacy? Sometimes words are illegible, but is there such thing as an illegible picture? Or do you just call it “art?”

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31 thoughts on “illegible

  1. Actually, most people tend to start at the center of the scene and scan for eye contact in all the images of people. Almost simultaneously, they scan for signs of implied motion. Both survival instincts. Then, they categorize shapes, then colors. Then, they tend to explore the picture from the upper left to the lower right, just like reading a page. The lower right corner of any space in advertising is called the dead spot because it is the last place a person looks. You can hide your wallet there.

  2. Kitty says:

    As Richard noted, it is called composition. you could also call it image literacy and I’m glad you mentioned something here about how people in other times viewed the same art. They viewed it differently because reading and writing for the masses is sort of new. Most people during the Renaissance could not read or write so they paid more attention to what was in a painting and noticed a lot more detail in them than we do now. They got the concept way quicker than we do, that was how they “read” and their eyes were trained for that.

  3. I don’t think you read just absorb them or eat them whole and your brain and senses fool around with what you show them and then they come to a conclusion and feeling about what is in front of you and that’s it. Those thoughts and feelings may change, for any number of reasons, but your first impression is the one that means the most, in my opinion. We all attracted to different works of art because of who we are…art speaks to us in gulps and color, not letters and words, but emotion and passion…. Just what I think.

  4. Piscis says:

    I guess I’d just say ‘incomprehensible’. (>^-‘)>

  5. windhound says:

    You pose a good question. Really pleased that you found and are following dragonshades. I have given my pictures titles because the words come into my head when I look at them but other people have suggested alternatives and that is always intriguing. It is as if we usually see through our experiences and only rarely can an artwork take us out of our comfort zone of the known and into a completely new dimension where we are prepared to suspend what we call reality and enter the world of illusion.

  6. invisibleme says:

    Thank you for the follow :-) This post actually made me stop and think. The thing I love about pictures is that one look is never enough. Each time I look at a piece I look at from a different focal point. That means that I get to experience the whole picture like it is a brand new piece of art work each time. Does that mean I’m picture multi-lingual? lol

    • haha you speak picture-ese! I know what you mean though. I have listened to some of the same songs for years now, in the car, in my room, with headphones on, different speakers, on an airplane. And with each new way of listening different parts of the song are covered up or revealed, so I might hear a song this ‘new way’ for the first time, even though I’ve heard it many times before.

      …not sure if that made sense

      • invisibleme says:

        It makes perfect sense. I’m awful at song lyrics. So after I check out the lyrics and get the correct ones it gives me a whole new take on the song. lol Plus, I think during different seasons in our lives we have different thoughts in our minds and hearts. So, the song will speak differently to us in each season :-)

  7. ericaatje says:

    It’s just the kind of word you want to give it… I don’t know what art is either, but I try to make some… ;)

  8. justme0486 says:

    Thanks for the like/follow :)

  9. As a painter I work very hard in order to direct your eye in and around the image…it is called composition

    • Thank you for the insight. So composition is how you as an artist “direct traffic,” but I’m curious, are there different ways to view a painting as in writing? One could make the connection between styles of painting and writing by the broad label of ‘genre’ (eg: impressionist, renaissance, political satire, sci-fi), but is there a way you are “supposed” to view it? I suppose that’s my wonder around art in general. let’s say I paint a picture that aligns with the style of Middle Age cathedral paintings, but for one: I do an awful job, and two: it’s 2013. Would my painting be viewed through the lens of someone ‘reading’ it by the same conventions of the Middle Ages, or would they read it as a piece that reflects upon the era and culture that I am from, as a whole, and personally? and also, since I’m not a good painter, would my painting be considered ‘bad art?’ Can there be such a thing as good/bad, correct/incorrect art? or is it just a matter of personal taste?

      I apologize for the long comment :( I got going and couldn’t stop! You don’t have to answer all that, but if any others have thoughts and wanna chime in….

      • Since no one else has, I’ll take the bait. As a frequent creator of bad art I feel I have a lot to say on this subject.

        Composition is how an artist attempts to “direct traffic” but in reality there are many ways to approach a piece of art. As discussed in another comment regarding music (auditory art) the context in which you observe it directly influences how you observe it, and thus what you take away from it. What one takes away from a painting or photograph likewise depends on context; is it in a busy museum, or a quiet, empty one? viewing on the glow of a computer screen or a 8X10 matte finish hanging on a wall? Is there text, notations?
        I view a public statue differently, and take different emotions and thoughts away from seeing a statue in a busy public space versus a forgotten and overgrown old park.

        In your painting scenario you offer i would say that most likely it would be viewed as bad art. It would certainly be viewed and “read” through a modern interpretation (even by a classical art scholar!) since we are products of our environments, both artist and viewers.
        You specifically say that you did an ‘awful job’, hence bad art. But still art. It attempted to portray something and evoke a certain emotion, but the execution was shoddy so it failed. Thus bad art is made.

        Not one will argue this; Art itself is mostly subjective. To return to an art form that almost everyone in the world appreciates on a regular basis, take music as an example. There are tons of crap bands and solo artists out there, they regularly produce bad art, and out of those will arise the ones who key into something, and then refine it, to become ‘good art’ yet not everyone will agree. I personally cannot stand rap music in general, I’ve never liked it and very rarely find something I can tolerate much less like in the genre, to me it is ‘bad art’, but to millions of others it isn’t. But even within that there are plenty of artists and songs (that never get air time) that even aficionados of the genre will point to and call ‘bad’.
        A child’s painting of two stick figures and a lemon yellow sun is bad art but it is forgiven because it is a child’s work, even within that there are varying degrees of how bad it really is.

        The wonderful thing about art is that no matter how bad it is, there is someone out there who will appreciate it in some way. We will continue to argue about what art is, what makes it good or bad, and how important it is to society until the end of our species.

        • Nice comment. I guess the two main things I got from reading once through are the context of the artwork (everything has a context, and thus it should always be considered. good point), and the abilities of the artist. Although harder to determine without some background information, let’s use the scenario of the kid drawing stick figures. If a kid draws stick figures, we might assume that’s the best he can do, but if Michelangelo draws stick figures, then he must have done it for a reason, and i suppose that reason would have to do with what he is saying with his art.

          I’m going to post these comments on the facebook page because it’s easier to comment over there:

  10. WilderSoul says:

    Ahh- at last, a box here just when I felt like putting words in one!
    Well, your blog seems all Most Relevant. Most relevant indeed. Oh yes… most relevant. ;)
    As for pictures – do you have an example? Pick one of mine and tell me if you can read it. Pick a few! Which ones are ‘legible’ and which ones are ‘illegible?’ Do any of them read form left to right, or do some read right to left? I am very curious to know.
    Perhaps you will find them all completely illegible, and entirely not relevant, not even Almost! ;)
    I like your blog name, and your interesting topics!


  11. I used to be a member of a local photographic society and often at our monthly competition the judge would talk about reading a photograph from left to right the same as a book. Other things, such as leading lines taking you into the main subject, were also important.

  12. harolene says:

    Hello! Thank you for visiting HaroWritingOutLoud (the title is long enough to forego a blog!) and for the follow! I loved yours too and followed back! Looking forward to seeing all your “stuff”! h

  13. arbiterkitty says:

    Haha! This is so true.

I put this box here if you feel like putting words in it.

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