wordy weekender: Accidental Subtext

I read a lot of blogs and look at a lot of art online. I like to see what others do in their art journal. One of my favorite things to stumble upon is what I like to call the “accidental subtext.” This usually is when someone uses an image that they don’t fully understand in their collage. Either they don’t know who the people are in the photo or what the photo is about. It usually happens when someone thinks an image is cool  and it’s from a group not their own, either a subculture, counterculture or the like.

It’s not unusual for me to find one of these images and to laugh. I had the occasion last night. I stumbled upon a blog full of bible quotes, discussion of husband and children and great crafty ideas. As I scrolled down through the pages I saw a page with a fairly well known image of 2 women making out overlaid with a bible quote. Queue: dissonance and a hearty chuckle.

What made it exceptionally funny to me is that one of the women in the image was not noticeably a woman, at first glance and if you didn’t know the image, you’d have thought the image was of a man and a woman kissing. Knowing the image in question made the journal page humorous rather than the serious tone of the bible quote.

I realized as I looked at the image that just because I knew it was 2 women kissing didn’t mean that that the creator of the page knew. It’s one of those things that makes me realize that I’m “other.” I knew it was a gay picture because I’d read the magazine the image was originally in, and knew the model’s name. Looking at myself I realize that a straight person might not know the model, or her work and thus wouldn’t know that the image is gay.

At first glance the image isn’t gay which is what makes it so… subversive and give the whole journal page, most likely unintentionally, a secondary subtext that make me, as a gay person, chuckle. Especially as I look at the rest of the blog and images on the site to see that they are so clean, earnest and Christian. The additional layer of meaning adds more to the art for me.