Saturday, May 05, 2012

Chairs and visual connections

click photo to enlarge
As a child I used to see faces in the front of motor vehicles. The headlights were eyes, the radiator grilles were mouths and the often prominent maker's badge represented the nose. Sometimes the wing mirrors managed to suggest ears. I have the feeling that the car designs of the 1950s and 1960s prompted my imaginings in a way that the designs of today wouldn't. Or perhaps, underneath all this, is the primitive ability and necessity of quickly recognising faces because your life may depend on it. Maybe that's something that is stronger in childhood, but declines as you age. What I do know is that these sort of visual connections work at an unconscious level and come upon you when you least expect it.

The other day we passed an old watermill that also houses a cafe. Outside were tables and chairs for the use of customers who fancied their coffee and cake en plein air. Rather optimistic, I thought, given the fact that rain and unseasonally low temperatures have been an almost daily feature of recent weeks. Most of the chairs and tables were the sort of thing one can see anywhere. But the examples shown in today's photograph attracted my attention because they seemed to be the outdoor equivalent of a bar table and stools. The elongated legs of the trio made them look different and slightly odd. They also prompted one of those unconscious visual connections. As soon as I saw them I thought of Salvador Dali's elephants in "The Temptation of St Anthony"! I think it's the fact that if you cut the legs down to size they would be like any other table and chairs, just as Dali's surreal elephants would become much more "normal" with regular legs.

I took the photograph because tables and chairs often provide visual interest in the form of strong, interesting outlines and, if the sun shines, shadows that reveal more about their structure. The backdrop of old bricks, steps and railings seemed to add to the image too.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 65mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On