• In the world of photographic art, what matters more than where you focus your lens? We all see skylines, but which section interests the photographer most? We all see people, but which people, which part of a person, claims the image? Photographers show us the world through their eyes. In the case of these four photographers, we're seeing worlds within worlds. Each image is a combination of still life portraiture and media, whether overtly or subtly referenced, and invites the viewer to consider language, culture, and our subconscious.

    John Houck's photographs converse with reality versus our perception of reality. Without first reading the title of this photograph, we interpret the visual cues and recognize branding. How blurry would the photo need to be in order for our advertising-saturated brains to misinterpret the logos? Yet, on first glance, and especially from a distance, the image is a pleasing interplay of color and shape, akin to an architectural sketch, but made more beautiful by each logo's hue.

    You could find Richard Paul's photographs under the definition of "double take". The comic device works particularly well in photography, where humor is often lacking. As with Houck's photograph, it's impossible to separate this image from commerce. Again, always on the ready for the pitch, we assume this image means "shoes for sale." How many times will you look before you stop seeing the vegetable? If only we could wear eggplants.

    Daniel Everett is also interested in exploring meaning and the ways we extract meaning from what we see. In this photograph, Everett highlights (literally, with neon) a crumpled piece of paper. Whereas the first two photographs communicated directly with media, Everett's image speaks to the brain, that vital organ soaking up everything we see and regurgitating it into words. Whether this was a letter, a plan, a list matters little; whoever took time to put pen to paper also took time to deem it trash.

    Sarah Fuller's Book of Dreams series is another commentary on our subconscious and self-expression. With detailed directions, Fuller instructs her subjects to aim a camera at themselves just before falling asleep. The result is an 8 or 9-hour exposure of a human in dreamland. Upon waking, the subject records his dream. Whereas we often tune out when a friend tells us a dream, seeing these strangers as they sleep makes us want to know the workings of their subconscious. The imagery that overtakes their dreams, culled from thousands of images processed per day, is often the same as what overtakes ours.

    Anna and Tess Knoebel are the co-founders of Abe's Penny, a mail art publication launched in March 2009. Each monthly, four-part series features an image and text collaboration printed on postcards. The short and accessible "stories" aim to change the way we consume art and literature by slowing the story telling process and focusing on one photographer and writer per month. Since its inception, the publication has been featured in such well-regarded publications as The New Yorker, BOMB, Dazed & Confused, and Poets & Writers. The Knoebel sisters also publish a kids version of Abe's Penny called Abe's Peanut.


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