Worth a Thousand Words

By Kwesi Billups

We’ve all heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and, odds are, we’ve chalked the gist of the saying up to philosophical mumbo jumbo describing the complexity and relativity of visual stimuli. However, the expression offers a thoughtful take on the forms of rhetoric we choose to communicate our identities and outward messages. Every deconstructed image holds immeasurable meaning defined by and constantly defining the circumstances of its reality, and this concept is further complicated when considering the perceptional differences that arise from various perspectives. One might imagine that a photo of a chair in a room of white walls and floors could only be described as just that- a chair in a white room- but the question of the chair’s origin is likely the next question in one’s mind. Then one might wonder who is meant to sit in the chair, or what it is meant to symbolize relative to the white space surrounding it. A photo is worth a thousand words because it does not simply transmit the message of the objects bound within it’s physical and visual constructs, but also the experiences and disposition of its consumer. This is not to say that photos are ineffective in conveying measured and purposeful information, but that to ignore the fluctuation of meaning across cultural fields would be a fundamental flaw in interpreting the importance of medium in communicating content.

At the beginning of my first college semester, I printed out five photos as decorations for my wall.
Today, I have around 4 dozen photos, most taken by or of me, on my wall, as well as digital artwork by twitter user @tweggs, and an offhand portrait by Kendall Fikes. I plan to further populate my wall with images that express my consciousness of nature, art, and self as it develops.

I myself buy into the notion that a picture is worth a thousand words by choosing to express myself through the photos that I decorate the wall of my dorm room with. Everyday I communicate with myself and others through the choices of imagery that constitute my wall, the meanings of which are fluid although the photos are physically fixed (except for when I shift their placement from time to time). The photos serve as reminders of my past, indications of my future, representations of my consciousness, and so much more simultaneously in their shared time and space, and such is the nature of life made art.

 

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