24 March 2006

Brief Encounter or The Art of Title

Finding a title for a project is often the most gratifying and empowering part of the creative process. It's setting somehow its identity, its tonality - this pop-song-like element that people will remember. Book authors are really good at it (think "a catcher in the rye", "me talk pretty one day", "io non ho paura" - books that I'd buy if it was just for the sound of their titles). When you give a title to an artwork, it's when you start to have a distance, to see it shaped. Somehow it's the beginning of the end, the reward before letting it go.
For my own work, I usually like 1-word titles ("superficiel", "kindergarten", "passages", "raw", "palpitations"...) but for my current project, I'm stuck.
I was offered few months ago to propose a project for a collective exhibition around the theme "ithyphallic" (= related to / or / presenting a phallus in erection). After working on it for a while, I feel it's now time to find the perfect title. Problem is my raw material for the project is movies, which each already bear very intimidating titles ("brief encounter", "prick up your ears', "parting glances", "i know where i'm going"...)
I must say that I'd hate being referential - using the easy way out with a pop culture expression that's been recycled over and over again. Not that I dislike them. But it seems that art and design these days can't not be but over referential. They're not creating their own trends but rather using/altering/diverting past ones to be validated. Pop is really by now eating itself. And I'm its reluctant prisoner. Which is why I'm fighting the temptation to use titles such as "dreams are my reality" (something French people can get), "i was the dreamweaver but now.." (something Macromedia already stole from John Lennon), "imitation of life" (no way i can pull a Douglas Sirk like that).
Maybe it's just my ego making me think that I can think of something so original, so exceptional that just like a pop song, it would infiltrate someone's brain, sucking all its concentration skills, growing slowly in the memory area so that ultimately, some day it'll come out in the idea-finder area, masked under a brand new persona and making think the brain holder that he's a genius... What's under the sun, again?

-- Joëlle.

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