Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Visual Explication

On page 12 of Tom Phillips' Humument, Phillips suggests that life is a path with many obstacles, challenges, and choices. The choices, obstacles, and challenges will not be easy. Phillips knows this and is able to show his viewers through use of color, word placement, and many other techniques, Phillip is able to convey his readers to look more closely at life and what it throws at us. Life is not meant to be simple, it is meant to be complicated. First looking at the picture, the viewer can clearly tell that the humument is mainly constructed of dark colors with little specs of white. I believe the dark colors that Phillips uses in the humument represented the obstacles that life throws at a person. While the little specs of light represent hope. As the viewer can see, there is much more dark colors of green then there are colors of white. I think Phillips purpose for the excessive green and the limited white was to show how many obstacles a person would have to overcome in his or her life and how much hope he or she will have while overcoming the obstacle. But the use of the color green could also have a split meaning. Green could also mean spring, renewal, or growth. There is also controversy at the top of the picture. There are two different shades of color with a slash of green between the middle. The brighter side which consists of pink, blue and white, is one side of the pathway, and path with the darker colors is another. It depends on how the viewer views the picture to choose which side he or she determines to follow. Just like with the split meaning of green, they can choose which way to perceive it. Green could be sought as an obstacle, or it could be sought as growth or renewal. Leaving the viewer to decide the meaning is also saying what choices a person can choose in life. There is never only one option; there will always be many options. A significant thing I noticed about the humument was how the words were arranged. The words as the viewer can see starts from the very tip of the left hand side then moves slowly to the right then takes a dramatic drop to the left again and finishes at the very tip of the left hand side. As the viewer can see, the words are arranged in what appears to be like a path. The arrange of words could easily be translated to how life is a path. First, people are born and have no knowledge of the world yet, they are "condemned to life" as Phillips puts it, but as a person grows older, when they are in their teenage years they understand life more, but stray away from it. Teenagers, as most people know, are probably one of if not the hardest age group to understand. Which is the second little packet of words is away from the first on the opposite side of the page and very far away from the next. Phillips purpose for this how people in the teenage age group usually tend to stray away from life. The word choice he uses clearly demonstrates what he thought “this good book looks for nobody". Replace the word book with teenager and the line makes perfect sense. Between the years of 1970 and 1975, Phillips probably created his humument gallery. This was also the time of the hippie era, liberation for teenagers and young people. Teenagers were dressing wildly and doing acts that people were just no yet use to. This is why I believe that the little set of words is so far away from the other sets. Hippies were also misunderstood for the most part; another reason why I think Phillips cast these words away as far as he did. The next set of words is on the left hand side again, where the humument began. The set words at the bottom left hand side are more dense and abundant than the previous sets of words. I believe Phillips made the lines this way was because the last set of words symbolizes adulthood. The first set of words symbolized a baby, the next set, a teenager, and the last set belongs to adults. I believe the last set of words is denser than the other pairs are because the last set of words is the path of adulthood. As an adult, people are more knowledgeable of the world and what’s around them. They challenged more obstacles than teenagers and babies. In general, they have more knowledge. It’s the road to success, they (adults), figure out their lives pretty much. Teenagers on the other hand, are just coming to grasp what life is and has yet to learn the definition of life. Another thing significant about the humument is that there is a patch of mud brown that begins in the top middle that goes down to the bottom of the page. Looking from far away, the patch of mud brown could easily be seen as a pathway. There is also what seems to appear as a door in the bottom right hand corner. The path as it appears seems to be going towards the door. Through many obstacles and challenges life throws at, the door to this humument is a person’s salvation. Also, the door is surrounded by a bunch of flowers; which symbolize life and nature. People worked hard in life to travel through this door, as Phillip tells his viewers. As the viewer can see, there are many obstacles in life to overcome. Life is never as simple as it seems. There is never just one option; there will always be many options. And it’s up to the person to decide which option would be right for him or her. Life gives people paths; and it’s up to the person to decide which path to take.

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