Titling abstracts and the untitled option

September 28, 2012  •  1 Comment

It's my belief that a true abstract can't exist if the title leads the viewer down a predetermined path.  It's no longer an abstract.

My intention is quite the opposite, I choose to let the viewer immerse themselves free of any preconceived notions or ideas. They develop their own interpretation based upon their personal experiences and emotional reactions.  If the piece resonates and creates an environment unique to the viewer it transitions as they become intimately tied to it, and now it becomes their art.

So the dilemma is do I title my pieces "Untitled"?  Yes, I could as it works but what does it convey to the viewer? An artist unsure of himself, devoid of intent and emotions, an artist lacking true vision. This has caused me to reflect on the entire titling process especially as it pertains to abstracts.  In the end I have come to a realization that two viable choices exist for me.  

1. Use an ambiguous title. For example "where have you been". It isn't specific in any regards and actually prompts the viewer to answer a question themselves.

2. Utilize an acronym.  For instance one of my latest unposted pieces is titled, "LP". Again the same concept it attempts to engage the viewer with total creative license.

So how does this play out in real life? Well in my experience it's very engaging and refreshing as it's apparent now people are coming to me free to discuss their own interpretations.  I find that people acquire a much deeper emotional connection. Some reactions are truly extraordinary and have opened my eyes to perspectives that I may never have dreamt up on my own. It's literally quite a beautiful thing to experience. But again I can not emphasize it enough the most important aspect is that my work becomes your work, it becomes our work. And that is empowering to both the artist and those that appreciating the piece.

A continuance on the conversation can occur if someone chooses to share their vision of the work, in that case I may share mine granted that the conditions are right.

That's my story for now, it may change later.

Aloha - Bob

 

 


Comments

Antonio(non-registered)
I've had this problem before. I have, in the past, become attached to a piece of my work and then had that experience spoiled somewhat by the ache of having to assign a title to it. I agree with what you say, and especially so for abstract work. Personally, I don't see the idea behind an abstract piece as the artist taking the viewer on a journey, but rather that the artist enables a journey for the viewer. That journey will be personal, varied and different for each and everyone of us. And that's as it should be. I find that adding a title - even the acclaimed fence-sitter, 'untitled' - can immediately take something away from that experience. Constraining it to some predetermined path. I now find myself thinking about how the title and the image connect together, rather than on the image before me. Surely titles are secondary (unless you're doing a series, I guess)? And if you're struggling to find an appropriate title, then it starts to feel contrived, right? Doesn't that lessen the image?

I know people say that they want to see the artist in a piece of work. To better know the artist. Personally, I want the artist to allow me to escape somewhere, perhaps in deep, blinkered thought, or to just simply put a smile on my face. Adding a title can, somehow, detract from that.
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