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CHALLENGE: What does this image mean?

Joe Hardesty

New member
This image has quite a story behind it (to be revealed later) but it also has a very distinct message, emotion, or vision that has been independently verified (also revealed later).

So your challenge is determine what it means. The photo is mine, and everything about the image is intentional (the crop, color, etc).



ReflectionsSm.jpg[/CENTER]



I will reveal all of the details in about a week, and will be happy to answer any question so long as it does require me to prematurely divulge the answer.

Hint: About 95% of the people who see this image dislike it, but that does not change its message.
 
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Doug Kerr

Active member
Hi, Joe,

This image has quite a story behind it (to be revealed later) but it also has a very distinct message, emotion, or vision that has been independently verified (also revealed later).

So your challenge is determine what it means. The photo is mine, and everything about the image is intentional (the crop, color, etc).
Even the pixel value at 147,483? That's really amazing. Few artists would have thought of that.

I will reveal all of the details in about a week, and will be happy to answer any question so long as it does require me to prematurely divulge the answer.
It's very pretty.

I believe that you took a picture of a tree, printed it in a Epson Stylus Photo R1900 printer in which the ink passages had all become clogged except for the blue, scanned it upside down, saved it as a BMP file, e-mailed the file to a guy in Ukraine, who converted it to JPG and mailed it back, and then you posted it here.

I'm fascinated by the idea of a "very distinct message, emotion, or vision that has been independently verified". Hearing about that will be the best part of the "revelation", maybe.

But I see it is hosted on the forum. I didn't know we could do that How do we do that?

Again, it's very pretty.

Best regards,

Doug
 
If I look at it like that... not thinking about something else, in automatic thinking, my 1st connection is "sleepy hollow" don't ask me why, I couldn't tell.

I find it nice (except the colour, too dark :) )

But If I follow your speech you talk about a revelation and my thinking digresses (I think of ghosts and I think of people drowned in the Mississippi river) It's because I'm reading Mark Twain. After I'm thinking about your words more than your image, it talks about death. (maybe it's the purple)
 

Joe Hardesty

New member
But I see it is hosted on the forum. I didn't know we could do that How do we do that?
When you create a post, there is an attachment icon above the text area (paperclip).

Click it and you can upload an image.

After uploading click it again and the image tag can be inserted in the post.

I just did it because the option was there. Perhaps there are rules or guidelines I don't know about?!

BUT, how did you know about the guy in Ukrania???
 
I just did it because the option was there. Perhaps there are rules or guidelines I don't know about?!
I bet £10 that the option is brand new... There still some probabilities that I'm a bit stupid I haven't seen it before...
What are the odds bookie?
 

Cem_Usakligil

Active member
Hi Joe,

This is rather funny as you have accidentally discovered an active attachment feature which the admins must have overlooked. Normally, this feature is disabled throughout OPF. This particular forum seems to be the only one in which it had not been disabled. :)

It is the intention of Asher to allow hosting of pictures in OPF and we are hoping it will be possible when we upgrade the forum software to the next version soon.

Hi Sandrine,
I bet £10 that the option is brand new... There still some probabilities that I'm a bit stupid I haven't seen it before...
What are the odds bookie?
Well, for all the other forums you would have won the bet. But not in the case of this particular forum. I am afraid the option had been there all along. So you can send the cheque to my address....lol.

Cheers,
 
Dammit, I'm trapped....


PS: to be honest I've already seen attachments but since it was moderators or old members postings I thought it was a "reserved" feature... Didn't bother to watch out for the topic...
 

Joe Hardesty

New member
It is the intention of Asher to allow hosting of pictures in OPF and we are hoping it will be possible when we upgrade the forum software to the next version soon.
I know this costs extra server space and hence extra money, but it really is a good idea for photo sites to prevent having broken links for externally hosted servers.

Perhaps it's time to make a donation.
 

Ken Tanaka

pro member
It doesn't "mean" anything, Joe. Meaning requires context. Sans your personal context it's JAP. (Just Another Picture)
 

John Angulat

pro member
It doesn't "mean" anything, Joe. Meaning requires context. Sans your personal context it's JAP. (Just Another Picture)
I'll agree with Ken.
If a picture was posted of a pencil it would be simply a picture of a pencil.
Maybe someone had only $1.50 to their name.
Maybe that pencil was purchased for $0.50 and they used the remaining $1.00 to purchase a lottery ticket.
Maybe they used that pencil to fill in the ticket.
And just maybe they won, and now they're a millionaire.
To anyone viewing the image, it's still just a pencil.

Sorry, to me it's just a blue image of a tree reflection.
 

Joe Hardesty

New member
It doesn't "mean" anything, Joe. Meaning requires context. Sans your personal context it's JAP. (Just Another Picture)
I suggest that we each view all photographs, and works of art, in the context of our life experiences and state of mind. Even a fully abstract image can have deep meaning for some people, but we (collectively) will certainly never agree on any image.

Hypothetically, an editor may see that image and say, "That is a perfect image for our story on _____." Then the ______ is the meaning, at least for him. And that is the question, what is _____ for you.

If you don't want to participate, that's fine.

As for it being JAP. Isn't that true of 99% of the images on this site or any other site?

I never strive for universal acceptance or critique of my images, I'm striving for much a much deeper connection, even if only by one person.

Joe
 

Ken Tanaka

pro member
Joe,
Your reply butresses my point. You posed this thread as a puzzle for which you have the sole solution. But your remarks suggest that you're challenging readers to make their own interpretation? Nonsensical.

Further, you're now wading into the whole "works of art" quagmire. This forum, and likely every other amateur photo forum on the Internet, has hundreds of "is it art" type threads that all lead ... nowhere.

If you're going to post one of these "what do you think about this?" exercises why not anchor it onto a more iconic and accomplished body of work? Or, better yet, anchor it onto a contemporary image that's currently well-recognized but not well known? Perhaps a work by Jeff Wall or An-My Lê? Such work is open to interpretive discussion, even at enthusiast levels, because it's visually approachable even to the most narrow eyes.

Sorry if I read as sharp but these types of threads are wastes of energy that don't open eyes or minds.
 
Joe Hardesty, I earnestly doubt that pictures, of themselves, mean anything.

Certainly a picture-maker can fashion an image as a personal indulgence to amuse some private notion. Alternatively the image may be fashioned with the intention to communicate something to a viewer. Both options are valid but I can't see them as interchangeable on a whim. For the viewer to get the message of a picture that viewer needs common intellectual ground with the author. To an extent the picture interrogates the viewer, the viewer is on trial, nevertheless it generally won't unearth anything the viewer didn't already bring with them to the viewing.

The Open Photography Forums include many defined categories where pictures may be posted with a good chance that picture-maker and viewer are on the same wavelength; communication results, appreciation follows. But there is a place for completely mysterious pictures. Some of them devolve into trivial rebus puzzles and others become ditzy exercises in pareidolia where people see animal shapes in clouds or the face of Jesus in a half burnt taco.

Joe, I wonder how many viewers will guess your secret meaning. I wonder how many will accept that even you are not mistaken. The picture interrogates not only the viewer but the maker as well.
 

Ed Rizk

New member
Upside down

Dead

Wet

Cold

Purple

Whatever it means, it can't be very good. Best guess - deep depression.
 

Andy brown

Active member
I'm a simple soul but I thought it was obvious -
The deciduated branches quivering, losing sharpness like the already fallen leaves point to life ebbing away. The inverse branches no longer heading skywards with the sky as the limit but rather heading down like withered roots towards the inevitable grave. The Winter of life - cold and lonely.
The ambiguous yet stark likeness of microstomus kitt amongst the branches hinting at the sour sweetness of a soul's skeletal remains.

What, no-one else can see that?
 
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I suppose nobody would guess the secret meaning.

I'd like to think that Joe would like his image to reveal the same thoughts to everyone else including him. So far, all the people who played the game said "death". So if Joe meant "death" I can say that's a success. That doesn't mean that the image is good or not, technically or artistically speaking, it just show that the intent of making connections in some part of the collective subconcious worked or not... But I may be wrong...

If I'm right, It would have been nice to see what people outer the "western" culture think for example of the colour purple...
 

Cody White

New member
Joe,

This has to be an absolute master piece.

At first glance I noticed the tree on a bright semi cloudy day, but then I kept my mind open and that is when I noticed it, so here is my official answer to this:

On the right hand side I can see what looks like a mother laying her children in a soft cradle, then underneath I see another couple looking down and wondering about life.

There is so much more in this picture than just a reflection, it suggest that there was, is, or will be another evolution of mankind.

So thank you for Sharing this Master Piece.
 
Here is my take, first of all, in a sense, the picture and presentation created controversy.

In itself this is better than a picture that would be ignored. So I sat back and wondered, what if this would have been presented without the challenge in the landscape section for example?

I also had Maris's 'Man in the moon' thought and tried to look at it from that angle, not very successful I might add. I looked at it from a variety of perspectives, for the Heck of it I can not see a scene like Cody so vividly and enthusiastically described, having said that, I might be missing something.

The problem is that Joe said the picture has 'quite a story' behind it, this of course is hidden to all of us, and there is not the slightest chance that this hidden story can be guessed, as the picture does not provide any clues.

The way Joe presents it, makes me think it is of great value to him, for reasons I can not know. Yes, any interpretation and guess would tell you a lot about the interpreter, and less about the picture itself. To me personally, I am rather indifferent to the photograph, it does not trigger thoughts of evolution, death or any deeper emotions in me.

So all in all, I am not too puzzled, as I am left with no clues whatsoever. The only hint Joe provided;

About 95% of the people who see this image dislike it, but that does not change its message.

Well, it left me clueless. Joe also said, the crop and the color were intentional, I failed to see any clues in that.

What really puzzled me at first however, why would Joe wait a week to tell us the story behind it and would consider an earlier explanation premature? If there is more than only tantalizing to it, then to my little logic, it would have to be related to an upcoming event....

Bottom line Joe, as I am left totally clueless, I have no questions to ask ;) and just wait on your explanation with interest, as you posted it in art theory, and this was beyond doubts intentionally.

Best
Georg

P.S. Correction, there are two more important clues left, but not in the original post.

I suggest that we each view all photographs, and works of art, in the context of our life experiences and state of mind
...which would underline my thought that this would tell you more about the interpreter than the picture.... and

I never strive for universal acceptance or critique of my images, I'm striving for much a much deeper connection, even if only by one person.
... which tells me more about Joe than the picture... ;)
 

Alain Briot

pro member
There's nothing for me to ponder in this image. It's a photo of tree reflections with a purple color cast. I took pics this one like this early on when I wanted to be original but didn't know that there's nothing original about it. Sorry Joe, Ken's right. There's nothing to ponder about here and whatever "secret" you will reveal (or not) later on won't change the content of the photo.

Furthermore, to pretend that a photo has an inherent 'message' is hogwash. The message, if any, is in the mind of the viewer looking at the image. Anything past that would be subliminal at best and I don't see this being the case here.

As it stands, most of us don't feel like playing the game that you have set, especially because we don't believe the main premise, i.e. that you posit yourself as knowing the specific 'meaning' and 'emotional content' of the image and that we have to discover what it is. If you know, then why ask? To confirm it? Then you must not be so sure, right?

A much more constructive approach is to simply post your photo and ask 'what does this photo mean to you?' Then you will get answers from many people. It's a much more mundane aproach, it has been done countless times, but it is logical, level-headed and constructive. Most importantly, YOU will also learn things about your photo instead of starting from the premise that WE have to learn something. All I am learning here is about you, not about your photo.
 
A word of encouragement perhaps?

I would like to underline that I believe all that has been said, sharp or gentle, was in the spirit of constructive criticism, hence I would hope that Joe continues to share his work.
 
In the Chicago Museum of Photographic Art there was picture in the 2010 exhibition by A. Wertheimer.

The exhibition was about EXPERIENCE THE REVOLUTION THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF CULTURAL HISTORY - Rock 'n' Roll photographs selected by Graham Nash.

....Wertheimer's b&w picture showed Elvis at breakfast....
 

Cody White

New member
In that sense this image can work as a Rorschach test of sorts, revealing more about the viewer than about the photo itself.
I wouldn't call it a Rorschach test.
If I'm not mistaken the Rorschach test was done with ink blots. Purely this has some sort of theme going on that we don't know about.

If we look past the obvious there is something more to this than a reflection of a tree and clouds.
 

Alain Briot

pro member
Cody,

Yes, the original Rorscharch test is done with ink blots. I am referring to the cultural persception of the Rorscharch test: an opportunity to examine a person's personality characteristics and emotional functioning.

When approached that way this image is working quite well here, as demonstrated by your descriptions of what you see in the photo.
 

Cody White

New member
Cody,

Yes, the original Rorscharch test is done with ink blots. I am referring to the cultural persception of the Rorscharch test: an opportunity to examine a person's personality characteristics and emotional functioning.

When approached that way this image is working quite well here, as demonstrated by your descriptions of what you see in the photo.
I guess I'm just more open minded to what lies beneath the obvious.
 

Alain Briot

pro member
I guess I'm just more open minded to what lies beneath the obvious.
I don't think it's a matter of being open vs closed minded. Rather, it's a matter of seeing images for what they are. Photographs, like all images, have a literal aspect and an interpretational (or personal) aspect.

What I am talking about here is being able to tell which is what. Failure to do so is what leads to a misreading of the image, to seeing more into it than there really is, and to believing that the image contains 'secret visual messages' instead of realizing that you are describing your own psychological projections.

If I put my mind into it, I would probably see all sort of shapes into this photograph. However, these would be projections of my own imagination, visual interpretations if you will, a 'Roscharch' test of sorts revealing certain aspects of my personality and of my emotional functioning. On a literal level all the image shows are reflections of trees in a purple monochromatic color rendering.
 
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