What is a Quatrain?
In the literary world, a quatrain is a style of poetry limited to four line stanzas of any kind; rhymed, metered, or otherwise. Here, poetry takes the form of photographic, four-image constructions.
Removed from its original intent and context, an image is made part of a visually flowing sequence to create a new whole. Interpretation relies on viewer deconstruction and reconstruction.
So let life be your guide to discovering content, or just visit my blog — Thinking Outloud — the idea of Quatrain ƒotographic was born there!
September 2011 represents a pivotal confluence of the post-modern and digital eras that inspired and enabled my intuition to capture visual vernacular, found objects, and lyrical quotidian moments. It was several years after the completion of a Master of Arts degree when I began to create these four-image constructions, called quatrains. My workflow requires sorting through thousands of images in post-production and selecting specific compositions to create fusions of semiotics and symbols that convey ideas and metaphors. Visual poetry.
An original rule was to post one quatrain per week for sixteen weeks, but over subsequent years the quatrain project took on a life of its own, and now there are forty that align with its original set of rules. Each construction was accompanied with a written intent and context on my blog, and I soon realized that this was not just about producing a new body of work. I was also indirectly teaching some aspects of my creative process and visual literacy.
Teaching gradually became a natural extension, an overarching ethos, and an inherent objective of the quatrain project as each arrangement seeks to question one’s visual literacy skills — the core topic of my M.A. thesis. Any visual art requires a viewer to deconstruct, reconstruct, and interpret to determine meaning, and I frequently wonder about the people that don’t know how to see, decipher, and understand it. Can they understand the logos and pathos of a quatrain?
Over two decades of teaching has offered me anecdotal evidence that a great percentage of people do not critically think, nor do they possess adequate vocabulary to converse about visual art. The zeitgeist of science, technology, engineering, and math prevailing as the subjects that meet standards of success in most school systems is something that I want to help shift. I’m attempting to brighten awareness and bring value to visual literacy so the many forms of traditional and digital media arts are included as markers of social success. As German Bauhaus teacher Laszlo Moholy-Nagy prophetically noted in the early 20th Century, “the illiterate of the future will be the person ignorant of the use of the camera as well as the pen.”
Visual literacy skills are inarguably a basic life skill to intelligently navigate and make informed decisions in a hyper-real digital age. Because what’s typically discovered in the process of understanding visual art is that it’s multi-dimensional, as it involves references to history, semiotics, and psychology, let alone it being a product and reflection of time and place.
A book featuring this project is currently in production.