Final outcome: Coloured rags spewing out

Collections of coloured rags were obtained in white, red and green to match the colours of the corresponding clothing worn in the three postcards. This was an alternative to using the unblemished pieces of clothing worn in each of the photographs and possibly had more potential.

With no treatment, these were separated into the three cases. There is an immediate rhythm, a consistency in texture but a variation in emotive quality in the colours. Colour adds a subtle symbolism and each one is bursting out of the case; white innocence, red anger and green envy possibly. The ripped cloth is explosive, energetic and is a good marriage with the potency of the language shown. But there is also a tension between the energy in the cloth and the tenderness of the act of sending postcards.

I purposely put several of the postcards with the back showing with the intention of confirming that they were in fact postcards. Then we have the fact that they are blank and the question I ask is should they have writing on them or stay blank? Blanks suggest that we are lost for words or even that the phrases shown in the photographs are meaningless and the language has been cast aside. I think this is more potent than including writing on the postcards as we are stating that this communication was one way, truncated at source and certainly not based on the warmth of human writing.

Postcards make language travel and invariably put a positive spin on an experience that has been had elsewhere. I like how this contrasts with the German phrases on the postcards which has also been twisted, but over time rather than at the time it was created. At the time they were spoken, the phrases I’ve translated to German were believed by the sender but not by the receiver. The language on a postcard is often (comically) the opposite; the language is often fabricated (not believed) by the sender but fantasied about (believed) by the receiver. That contrast digs deep into the nature of verbal communication and I guess a reality is that two conversing parties never have the same sense of truth in what is being communicated.

Summary & next steps

The thoughts this arrangement has generated gives me confidence that I’m approaching a successful conclusion. I’ve opened a trio of Pandora’s boxes that contain explosive yet nonsensical communication and it’s very pleasing to see them altogether.

When I stand back I also consider whether my work questions the importance of truth in communication between sender and receiver. Is the perfect partnership based on both sides accepting the same concept of truth? Does a relationship break down when these truths go off at tangents? I’m not sure that this needs to be explicitly visible in the outcome but this is a notion to explore in my evaluation.

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