Less is more

It is often said that a minimalist photograph has greater impact.   Does this assertion have any foundation in science?   At the cafe scientifique in Leamington Spa last night film maker Huw Bowen outlined some interesting aspects of human perception that casts some light on these questions.   What do we see when we look at an image?   How much can we see?

Drawing on an analogy with memorising a telephone number Huw suggested that we see about five things at once.   More information in a photograph can make it more difficult to interpret.   He suggested that meaning could be enhanced by using juxtaposition.   An example of this is the montage used by Kuleshov in his experiments in Russia in 1918.   Such effects can be used to manipulate emotions as illustrated below:



Ideas come from many sources.   Images are essentially a mix of ideas and asthetics that communicate (often through ambiguity, juxtaposition or metaphor).


Helen Sear – Inside the View 2004 – 2008

  • Montage of images could be used to frame what is “inside the head” of (say) the scientist or the user.

When Art and Science Collide – Picturing Science February 2011.

  •  An example of an image that questions the use of drugs by showing dust filled pills.

Brian Griffin – The Water People

  • An interesting use of space between to illustrate a gap.   This idea might be adapted to show scientists meeting local people and a mix of background landcapes.   Here the wall is a useful sign – what is over the wall (different world of science).