Juxtaposition of Text and Image
An exploration by Phillip Wentirine
The main idea behind “Three Figures and a Dog” is to juxtapose text alongside a mix of images to make the viewer think one thing while experiencing another.
The piece is a single sentence animation. It involves text with images, neither ever venturing out on its own. It stems from the use of pen and paper to create art, and from that art it is turned into a video to create a visual experience encompassing both forms of media. The text in the video is mainly descriptions for the viewer to absorb while seeing an ambiguous figure. While the figure is ambiguous, the descriptions help the viewer make sense of the missing parts—that is, right up until the end. “Furry, with short legs, and a big, round head,” along with an image of a creature with a wagging tail makes the reader assume it is a dog being drawn, although we only see the back half of the animal. Next, the viewer sees only the middle of the body, a long, thin section that appears to resemble a wiener dog—again, letting the reader assume it is, in fact, a dog. Here we get descriptions, “it wagged what remained of its tail.” But in the end, we get the last detail, “although it never barked.” Then, we see the head of a chicken on this assumed dog body. The text with the image deceives the viewer. This deceit stems from one single sentence with one single image cropped into sections to create an allusive story.
The craft element that is most successful in this piece is imagery. This comes from the specificity in the word choices and details along with the limited point of view we get in the various picture segments. The imagery we get from diction such as, “short legs,” “round head,” “wagging tail” all allow the reader to envision a dog. This is especially prominent with the actual image of a hind end of an animal with similar features. I think this aspect of craft is successful in that the entire purpose of the piece is to dupe the viewer, and without such trickery with imagery it would not be a success.
Being that this is a single sentence animation and rather than listing the entire sentence, the best section of the sentence was the end: “although it never barked.” This section is the most impacting to me because it is here where the reader realizes he has been fooled; everything up until this point has been merely an illusion. It is such a simple line. However, those four words speak wonders to the purpose of the piece. The image of a chicken head on the dog’s body is perfect because without the image the audience would have endless ideas of the true identity of the creature. Without the text, the audience would not understand the context of the piece; we would just be viewing a chicken head on a dog’s body, and what fun is that, really.
This piece has shown me the importance of collaboration with text and image. I truly think this piece shows why either element would not be successful in this situation without the other. They are both extremely complimentary. While this piece is only a minute long and a single sentence, it speaks volumes. Some may find this piece confusing and not understand the purpose of creating such a piece. However, upon realizing the added benefit of both written and visual juxtaposition, the power being such a simple idea, a viewer can appreciate and enjoy such an experience.