The Edge of Arwen
We’re a husband/wife photography team and, for the most part, we’re on the same page when working a subject. Sometimes, though, we have “debates” about the artistic merits of one pose or another or one lighting arrangement or another or color saturation or any number of issues that have a great deal of impact on what a photo finally looks like. So we decided to try a little experiment and we invite you to participate.
We want to explore whether our occasional debates result from some friction between a “masculine eye” and a “feminine eye.” That’s why we call this blog post “The Edge of Arwen.” Arwen is a Celtic symbol sometimes referred to as the “three rays” or the “triple flame.”
An example of the Arwen is shown to the right. The outside rays are said to represent the male and female “energies” while the middle ray represents the balance between the two. Now, we acknowledge that there is often well informed disagreement on the full meaning of ancient Celtic symbols so we’re not making a stand as historical authorities here. For the purposes of this blog we are accepting the Arwen as something like the Celtic version of Yin-Yang. We chose Arwen instead of Yin-Yang because it’s different, we’re Celtic and this is our blog.
Here’s how we hope our Arwen project will work:
– Once a week (for an as yet undetermined number of weeks) we will each take a photograph of the same thing. We use the term “same” somewhat loosely because we won’t actually photograph the exact same person or object or whatever. We’ll choose a topic and then seek to represent it with a photo.
– We will post our photos on this blog. They will be labeled “Photo A” and “Photo B.”
Here is where your participation comes in:
– When we post we will not tell which of us took which photo.
– You will look at the photos and tell us whether you think “Photo A” was taken by a man or a woman or if it in some way reflects the masculine or the feminine. You’ll do the same for “Photo B.”
– We also want you to make suggestions about what we should photograph for the next week’s blog. Your suggestions can be as specific as “door knobs” or “cat whiskers,” or can be as general and conceptual as “love” or “fear.” We’ll pick the most interesting and work on it.
We will analyze your input to try to get a feel for whether Mike’s “man-ness” or Jill’s “woman-ness” is playing any part in our work. We don’t have the foggiest idea what long term implications this project will have. Maybe it will help us resist influences we don’t want to be influenced by, or maybe it will help us channel who we are more meaningfully. We just don’t know yet.
We do know that this is about as unscientific a project as one might contrive. There’s no control group or double blind or anything like that. It’s just a fun way to play with photography and personality and think about things a little bit.
We also know that masculinity and femininity are not so simple any more. We can’t say that Mike’s a guy so he’s masculine and everything he does will be masculine, any more than we can say Jill’s a girl and so everything about her is feminine. Maybe we’ll discover that Jill is actually more “masculine” than Mike is. And that’s something else…what, do the words “masculine” and “feminine” really mean and how do they play into art?
That’s the kind of discussion we hope to stimulate. So let’s begin…
The first two photos are posted below. The topic is “Something in Our House.” Take a look and tell us which one was taken by Mike (the guy) and which one was taken by Jill (the girl). Tell us if you can see anything akin to masculine or feminine and why you see it that way. If you want, make a suggestion for what we should shoot next week.
Thanks for you input.
Mike and Jill