I love the word juxtaposition. I like both how it sounds and what it means. The structure of the word itself is like a juxtaposition ~ ’juxta’ is kind of punchy and then ‘position’ rolls smoothly off the tongue. A whole chapter in my book will explore the theme of artfully juxtaposing objects and elements to create compelling groupings and vignettes.
In art design and music, the negative space of a composition is as important as the positive. As an editorial photographer I am always mindful of this, for graphics and words need a place to rest too. One needs to look at not just the forms, silhouettes, shapes etc of a grouping, but the spaces created between them. In Japanese this is called Ma.
If you imagine cutting a shape out of a piece of paper, you have the shape, but then you also have the rectangular sheet of paper left with the shape cut out…this is the Ma, the negative space. Ma is something to be experienced, like intervals in music. It is a pause for reflection, it is quiet space. For me, one of the most important aspects of striking the right note in the juxtaposition of things, is finding the Ma. I love to combine eclectic elements, rough with smooth, old with new, organic forms with linear etc. These combinations are tactile and intriguing.
But if just clumped together, grouped without a lyrical sense of vertical and horizontal direction, if not given room to breathe or if just placed all equidistant, the result can be boring, busy or confusing. With intuitive intent I push and pull and adjust my compositions until this perfect pause of space is formed.
This applies to my photographs and paintings as well. I want some tension, some areas that maybe even feel rough or slightly unbalanced, some areas that transition smoothly, gently, and then the magical space that invisibly holds it all together.
All styling & photos by Heather Ross