Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Photo puzzle or "il pirandellismo": another photo within a photo

Part 2 of my photo within a photo extreme makeover is coming soon, and I'm still waiting for someone to start the ball rolling on this month's challenge, but today I thought I'd post another puzzle-like photo within a photo. Can you figure out what's going on? Look at it for a moment (click to enlarge) before continuing.

The story behind the photo and why I like it
The Jardin du Luxembourg often features temporary art installations. Near the area where one usually finds people playing chess, a photographer had installed a life-sized photo of a typical chess-in-the-park scene, but had cut the photo into panels to create depth and to allow the real park to leak into her photo (and vice versa).

The photographer (I assume, or if not, then a very fastidious onlooker) was making sure her photo panels were shiny and clean when I took this shot. You can see her polishing the knee of the (photo of) a man playing chess.

Furthermore, to make things even more interesting, the front panel is hiding the woman's legs thereby creating the illusion that she is part of the photograph. Meanwhile, that spliced photo of a gray-haired man folding his arms and watching the chess game now seems to be watching the photographer. The photo looks back at its creator and the creator has now become part of her creation. I love the confusion between representation and reality and between author and subject. To me, it's like the photographic equivalent of il pirandellismo (hey! if you're going to use a pretentious literary term named after a nobel-prize winning Italian dramatist, you may as well say it in Italian)--which is just a fancy way of saying what I said in the previous sentence but with the added bonus of telling Professor Comollo (Ciao, Professore!) that I still remember a few things from his Italian lit class nearly 20 years ago.
Besides, it's not every day that you get to use the term pirandellismo in a sentence. Try it.
Use it at an art opening: I think this work expresses a certain ontological ambiguity unburdened by the weight of existential angst, a playful pirandellismo, if you will. Now go fetch me another drink.