Diptychs: Do You See What I See?

30/10/2013 13:12 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 23:58 GMT

That's the thing about pairs, everyone expects them to match. Odd pairs throw people. Not literally (although I quite like that idea). People struggle to make sense of things that don't have a logical reason to fit together, and traditional diptychs in art usually have an obvious connection.

Ancient diptychs were basically any object with two plates attached at a hinge. More recently the term describes any artwork that is presented, and usually created, as a pair. Most photographers use diptychs to tell a story, a before and after, a posed and relaxed... maybe a close up of some detail from the corresponding shot. Or the same landscape in different seasons. You get the picture (awful pun). Then we come to Sam Irons' photography. The difference here being that he selects two images that seem worlds apart and sets them next to each other to challenge perception, leaving the viewer to grasp what the relationship is between the two and draw their own unique conclusions.


The way we each perceive the world is based on our own individual belief system. We all look at situations through our own distorted lenses using judgment based on our own experiences, faith, values and current circumstances. Something that Sam is keen to provoke:

I'm interested in disruption, a combining of discordant genres of images in a way that upsets the viewers' presuppositions of what they're looking at and what it might mean. Brecht said, 'Less than ever does the mere reflection of reality reveal anything about reality', and I try to explore what is revealed and what remains hidden even within a technology devoted to the visible.


A prime of example of distorted perception is my initial view of the diptych above. In this case they do match, but the subject from a distance is unclear. My background is in fashion design, and until seeing the images up close in person I thought they were swatches of fabric. They're actually photos of a BMW. Yes. It's pretty obvious to me now.

So what do you see? I'll not give the rest of the game away. Sam's work is currently showing at Tim Sheward Projects in London's Bankside, just a hop, skip and a jump from more established galleries such as Tate Modern and Jerwood Space. The exhibition runs through until 2nd November; catch it before it goes.