The whole is greater than the sum of the parts…

‘Hey?’, I can hear say as you give a silent facepalm as you read that title. In a nutshell, a group of things has a value, be that monetary, artistic, or whatever. For the purposes of this blog, we’re going to go with the option of artistic. Sometimes, we see, hear or read a group of artistic creations, and are simply amazed by the group as a whole, as opposed to any one of the individual items. Often, this is owing to the feeling and emotion that is intended by the artist when he or she creates the collection. I remember first getting this notion at the Michael Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town, when I saw a collection by Guy Tillim on Avenue Patrice Lumumba. The collection as a series of images, often 1m x 1m, of buildings around Africa named in honour of Patrice Lumumba (Google him. He’s important).

I recall the impact of these images being tremendous, and walking through the gallery seeing print after print, beautifully presented and displayed to visitors. However, looking back and recalling individual images is difficult. Not one single image stands out as magnificent as a piece on its own. Rather, it was the collection of images in total that created the impact.

From a mathematics perspective, it’s akin to having a group of ten objects, each with a value of one being summed and, but the total being twenty. Empirically, we can reject this at face value, but when these objects are works of art are at least to be appreciated from an artistic point of view we can throw the rejection notion out the window.

Does that mean though, that an impactful collection should be devoid of images outstanding in their own right? No, it doesn’t, but the artist creating a collection should strive to keep the end-goal in mind, that being the collection as a whole, not the creation of a single outstanding image. As an artist, I often get caught up in the frenzy of capturing ‘THE’ shot, rather than focussing (pun intended) on project at hand. After all, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

     Aperture: ƒ/9 Camera: Canon EOS 20D Focal length: 50mm ISO: 100 Shutter speed: 1/200s
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