Archive for December 31st, 2013

13ShipInIceAn arresting image.  A ship in the Antarctic is trapped in ice.  Some of the people on board will be rescued by helicopter and some will remain behind to take care of the ship.  All this depends on the weather, which is severe.

The caption reads:  “This image taken by Andrew Peacock, a passenger on the Akademik Shokalskiy, shows the ship stuck in the Antarctic ice on Monday near Cape de la Motte.”

The composition is uncanny.  The photographer clambered around on solid ice until he found this ice formation curling over the view of the ship and, just coincidentally, a couple of people are standing there to look down at the ship.  It’s too good to be true, but let’s assume it is true and these three elements—ship, people and ice formation—are not collaged together in Photoshop.

What makes this image so compelling? First, it’s optimistic.  Second, it echoes the famous Hokusai woodcut. The two are related.

13ShipInIceFlipTo test for optimism, just flip it horizontally. Same information, different mood. Where before, the ice formation was static, now the ice formation is on the left and it appears to be coming down on the ship.  It’s ominous.  Where before, the people on the left made us sympathize with them, now on the right, they are in a dark, gloomy mood.

The photographer may not have thought of Hokusai when he framed the shot, but surely he saw the association when he looked at his many frames from that day and picked this one.  The ice curls and sits on

HukasaiWavethe page just like the Hokusai wave in his woodcut, “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” 1823-29.  Except flipped.  In the Hokusai, the wave ominously towers and curls on the left.  It moves towards the right and feels fast, powerful and threatening.

When we flip the Hokusai, putting the wave on the right, it looks static.  It just stands there, is not going

HukasaiWaveFlipanywhere, not threatening anybody.  Looks funny.


All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.





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