Theseus’ Paradox: A Visual Investigation of Image Differentiation

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Theseus’ Paradox is the starting point for a body of research into the material, iconic, and trace components of an image. By exploring two distinct images, the differentiating elements of each image are assessed and applied toward new symbolic representations of each. This process of abstraction moves from the photographic, through the visually symbolic, and arrives at the doorstep of language—without ever employing the use of letter forms. What this research reveals is to be considered in relationship to the differential aspect of language—specifically, the written word. The visual qualities inherent an images appear to have great durability in retaining signification, even as the elements are reduced, simplified, and manipulated. As the end results of this study should testify, this durability of the image’s signification—despite shifting connotations—can even go so far as to suggest language (each city’s name), so long as both image and word are familiar.

Text of Theseus’ Paradox: A Visual Investigation of Image Differentiation

  • Inquiry by Design HGK Basel Summer Design Workshop 2011 Matthew Wizinsky

    Theseus Paradox A Visual Investigation of Image Differentiation

  • Inquiry by Design HGK Basel Summer Design Workshop 2011 Matthew Wizinsky 01

    Introduction

    The Ship of Theseus, also known as Theseus paradox is a paradox that raises the question of whether an object which has had all its component parts replaced remains fundamentally the same object.

    According to Greek legend as reported by Plutarch,The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned [from Crete] had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

    Plutarch, Theseus 1

    Plutarch thus questions whether the ship would remain the same if it were entirely replaced, piece by piece. Centuries later, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes intro-duced a further puzzle, wondering: what would happen if the original planks were gathered up after they were replaced, and used to build a second ship.2 Which ship, if either, is the original Ship of Theseus? 3

    1 Plutarch. Theseus. The Internet Classics Archive. 2 Chisholm, Roderick M. The Ship of Theseus, Person and Object:

    A Metaphysical Study,3 Wikipedia. The Ship of Theseus.

    Theseus paradox is the starting point for a body of research into the material, iconic, and trace components of an image. By exploring two distinct images, my investigation seeks to discover what constitutes one images differentiation as well as potential methods for blending two images into a new representation that retains the identity of both originals.

    Through doing so, the differentiating elements of each image are assessed and applied toward new symbolic representations of each. This process of abstraction moves from the photographic, through the visually symoblic, and arrives at the doorstep of languagewithout ever employing the use of letter forms.

    For this investigation, I have employed two photographs of distinct places: Chicago, my home, and Basel, the place where these studies are taking place. My purpose in this selection is to further explore what constitutes the identity of a city through those visual elements of differentiation.

    What this research reveals is to be considered in relationship to the differentiational aspect of languagespecifically, the written word. The visual qualities inherent an images appear to have great durability in retaining signification, even as the elements are reduced, simplified, and manipulated. As the end results of this study should testify, this durability of the images significationdespite shifting connotationscan even go so far as to suggest language (each citys name), so long as both image and word are familiar.

    Subject of Inquiry Objectives

  • Inquiry by Design HGK Basel Summer Design Workshop 2011 Matthew Wizinsky 02

    Original Images

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    Material Manipulation Blur

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    Material Manipulation Halftone

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    Material Manipulation Area Color by Circle

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    Material Manipulation Area Color by Square

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    Material Manipulation Area Color by Isometric Triangle

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    Segmentation Hoizontal

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    Segmentation Vertical

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    Trace Area by Color & Contrast

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    Trace Area by Contrast & Manipulation

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    Trace Skyline

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    Trace Skyline

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    Icon Image Reduction

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    Icon Image Reduction

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    Merge Segmentation

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    Merge Segmentation

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    Merge Segmentation

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    Merge Material Manipulation

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    Merge Trace & Icon

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    Merge Trace & Icon

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    Merge Trace & Icon

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    Merge Trace & Icon

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    Merge Material Manipulation, Trace & Icon

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    Transition Toward the Symbolic

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    Transition Toward the Symbolic

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    Transition Toward the Symbolic

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    Transition Toward the Symbolic

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    Result New Differentiated Symbols

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    Result Poster with Merged Elements