This past week I've been thinking about the titles that people use/don't use on their artworks. I've heard arguments for and against titles in our time. The most common argument I hear about titles in our internet age is that the key words in a title can help people find your work more easily if they are not already followers of yours. On the other hand, I've also heard that titles are a distraction from the work in question. This has led to two basic approaches to titling ones work. First either listing it as a most banal, plain descriptive title (i.e. "Flowers With Vase", "Farmhouse", "City Life" etc) or simply no title at all (i.e. just a blank space) or using the word "Untitled". What if both of these approaches are wrong? Might it be simply a sign of laziness on the part of the creator to come up with a captive title? I have certainly been guilty of this lazy approach. Wanting to post something but not wanting to spend time with the image I've created to think about what it could mean or what the image could "say". I think, as a creative exercise, that a title should be approached as a writer who writes a book. After all who would read a book with no title on the cover or simply the word "UNTITLED" on the cover? Who would read a book titled, "THE BROKEN DOWN CAR"? Maybe some would but it is not very likely. What if we put as much effort into a title as a writer puts into a book. Add to that, who says titles have to be short? Are long titles a distraction or can they actually illuminate artwork much as artwork can illuminate a good literary work (as was proven in ancient times). I suppose listening to the post rock genre of music is to blame for my conundrum. There have been many post rock recordings with album and song titles that go beyond the common 1-4 word limit that most recordings use. Examples (band name followed by album or song title) - The Silver Mt Zion Orchestra - HE HAS LEFT US ALONE BUT SHAFTS OF LIGHT SOMETIMES GRACE THE CORNER OF OUR ROOMS - Explosions In The Sky - THOSE WHO TELL THE TRUTH SHALL DIE, THOSE WHO TELL THE TRUTH SHALL LIVE FOREVER - Hammock - RAISING YOUR VOICE... TRYING TO STOP AN ECHO - Godspeed You! Black Emperor - LIFT YOUR SKINNY FISTS LIKE ANTENNA TO HEAVEN - Red Sparrowes - THE FEAR IS EXCRUCIATING, BUT THEREIN LIES THE ANSWER In Truth there are many great short titles also but I think there is less substance (or maybe thats not the right phrase) or requires less from the listener. The titles of the albums listed above is a literary art in itself. I would argue that it provides an additional context for listening. Not only the casual listening that one gives a pop song but a deeper listen that engages ones imagination, intellect and emotional complexity. A longer title can be a literary short-form poem, even a haiku. It doesn't take away from the music but enhances the listening experience. Or, in working with images, as I do... enhances the viewing experience. For the visual arts a longer title can lead the viewer into the image from a different point of view. And has the opportunity to change the viewers experience and possibly behavior that has become so prevalent in a click-bait world. In short I will do anything to slow the viewer down to enjoy the experience of the image. Here are some images of mine that I've recently created with longer titles. Let me know what you think about this topic in the comments.
WE LANDED FOR THE STORM BUT WHEN THE STORM HAD PASSED WE HAD FORGOTTEN HOW TO FLY
WE SAT UNTIL WE COULD SIT NO MORE, BUT WE ALSO COULD NOT STAND, SO WE ASCENDED
I LOOKED AT MY HOME AND SAW THE EXPERIENCE OF MY SOUL