Imperfect beauty

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“Marks, scratches, poor processing, decay, age deterioration, repairs, cracks, tears, rips, and more. Here’s to the beauty of imperfect images.”

So writes John Foster about a collection of photographs presented in Design Observer, the popular design blog. Each print has been damaged through anger or accident, creating a new image more interesting than before. The damage has its own beauty and elevates the imagery to another plane. See above how the diagonal of yellowing sticky tape sets off the calm balance of the photo; and note how the pyramid of torn fragments below seems like an aesthetic choice. But by whom?

These wounds open the images to new interpretations and you can speculate on the circumstances that caused them. Taken out of their context of likeness and memento, they are given a second life as Found Objects or Readymades, “elevated to the dignity of a work of art by the mere choice of an artist.” Now, they’re your work of art.

Some show that photographs have the power of icons. Like religious icons, photographs are substitutes for the person or thing represented and possess some of its power. The small paper image of the woman is, in some way, the woman herself. Tearing the image is tearing her. You would not say that about a drawing of her.

To see John Foster’s excellent page in Design Observer, click here.

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