Creating incongruity

When combining images, their joint effect is best described as 'the sum is greater than the parts'. The property of subjects when combined creates a mix which exceeds the effect of the basic ingredients. Scale, textures, substance, events, space, when mixed irrationally can create disturbing combinations.

Substance

Shoes are made to protect our feet so a shoe with toes {left) is a contradiction. Pencils are hard, inflexible objects so a pencil tied in a knot seems impossible. Our prior knowledge of the character of an object means we find it difficult to accept objects having properties different from those we have experienced.

Scale

Three monkeys (right) examining a kissing couple. Are they giants? Is the central image a T.V. screen, a window, or a painting? Without additional information the image is an enigma. The viewer is seeking a plausible explanation for the incongruous.

Pre-knowledge (above) The painting by Peter Brueghel the Elder of hunters setting out on a walk appears in many books on the history of art. This copy by a modern artist omits the figures. The picture is disturbing only to those who remember the hunters' original positions (opposite).

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