Resisting the Blend
IOU’s imagery frequently operates through imaginative ‘blends’ – two or more frames of reference are evoked by elements, conjoined, which functionally create a third. Yet at the same time, in terms of associations and evocations, the elements resist the commingling. Rather than imaginatively entering wholly into the new entity – a submawhale or a lawnmower-bicycle – I [Middleton] am suspended in what feels like a mental Venn diagram with overlapping frames of reference generating a meaningful emergent centre but at the same time each igniting a set of personal schemas of association, each leading off down their own imaginal pathways.
As Fauconnier and Turner point out, the conceptual blending underlying so much of everyday thought is invisible to us, but in much of IOU’s imagery the blends remain visible – resistant, inconclusive. The precise selection and crafting of the inputs allow them to retain their individuality: each leans in its own direction. This means that the artefact does not wholly create a new unified reality. The industrial-style machinery of Nightfall does not entirely convince me that it is a functional machine set on skis for use in Antarctica. Rather, my experience is of two simultaneous frames – each redolent with associations.