Too close for comfort

by anketroeder

2010-04-25_proximity

When you are using text plus images, no matter if on your slides, an online workshop or on printed handouts, make sure things become clear, not blurred.

Imagine.

Last year, at a Richard Avedon exhibition in Berlin. The last two images after 90 minutes of heavy visual impact. I am tired.?? I am visually filled to the brim. I have seen a thousand amazing shades of grey. I will never take another photograph again. Everything has been said and done. I need some quiet now, and some espresso.

But I can do two more simple images. I think. Two images of two people.?? Some descriptive text on the wall between them.

I look at the first picture and read the label next to it. ??Farmhand??.

I am irritated. I stare at the middle-aged face of a woman in a frilly white blouse. I blink. I look again. I start thinking about gender issues and my own inhibitions with the topic, about a seminar on women and rhetorics I should be planning,?? I look back at the picture, I read the text, I try to make sense of it. It takes me a full minute to understand. I have been reading the wrong text.?? The photograph I have been looking at is called ??The artist???s wife??.

Snap. Everything makes sense. We are back in Kansas.

Gestalt law #1. Proximity rules.

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What had happened?

I had simpy read the first line first and assumed it belonged to the left picture, because that is how my Western mind works. Left-right, top-bottom. LOST Season 1 first, then Season 2. My brain had grouped the left image with the top label. Not a big deal. Big deal if it happens during your talk and distracts your audience.

They had also changed the rules. After over 50 photographs with the captions on the right hand side of the respective images, with the last two?? they decided to place the two captions between the photographs. My brain was confused, the poor thing.

Our brains don???t like surprise parties all that much.

So don???t break the rules unless there is a good reason to.

A touch of color often helps the brain to group the things you want it to see as one.

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Of?? course you could also simply put the accompanying text right next to the image it belongs to???

When you think about it, it is nothing but common sense.