"O, be some other name!"

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

–William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

I do like naming images. While it’s true that viewers will stubbornly resist an artist’s prompt and make their own meanings from images, I still enjoy suggesting places to start. Since many fractals are highly abstract, names can sometimes provide viewers with a kind of nudge to the forehead. Hopefully, this process is less obnoxious than those Head On commercials.

Names don’t have to be overly prescriptive. Viewers will still see whatever they prefer. Or, of course, they can categorically resist and deep six any title you’ve labored for hours to concoct.

But names can be like those mannequin torsos found in style shops. They at least provide a working semblance to hang up some preliminary but pricy rags of meanings that viewers might eventually buy.

Names also hint at an image’s “personality” — possibly providing a snapshot of its heuristic psyche.

And that’s where crucial artistic decisions come into play. These critical first impression snapshots often set the ground rules for an image’s tone and mood. Without such delicate pre-viewing preparation, a viewer’s response to your labor of love could be nothing more than a mumbled Huh?

Let’s carefully consider a couple of new images fresh off the pixel press via a brief multiple choice examination. One of the following titles is the actual name I gave the image. The others are title wannabes and currently undergoing a severe existential crisis. Ready?

As David Letterman says: Please. No wagering.

The greatest purity is nothing or nothingness -- no thinking, no desiring, no imaging (Barry Long).

Who’s my daddy?

What is the “correct” name for the image above? Is it:

(a) _____ Avoid the Fried Mushrooms
(b) _____ Ballooning
(c) _____ 1169995.8846 #7
(d) _____ Freak Out at Captain D’s
(e) _____ NOTA (Your Snappier Title Here)

Makes a difference, huh? Yes, I suppose it depends on how much one wants to influence a viewer and what kind of feeling one hopes the image will project. The title candle sputters at both ends: sublime and ridiculous.

Since you’re home on a Friday night instead of out carousing on a date, let’s try another. You may open your test booklet now.

If all great minds thought alike, we'd be stuck in perpetual nothingness (Josh Holman).

What’s my purpose?

What is the “proper” name for the image above? Survey says:

(a) _____ A Poor Choice of Plastic Surgeons
(b) _____ Someone Left the Play Dough Out in Rain and I Don’t Think That I Can Take It Cuz It Took So Long to Bake It and I’ll Never Have That Recipe Again OOOH NOOOOO
(c) _____ Bishop with Bad Thoughts
(d) _____ Fried Trannie
(e) _____ NOTA (Your Sappier Title Here)

Makes you feel sorry for Adam having to name those animals — and without even Eve being around yet to help. I’m sure all the great masters went through dark nights of the thesaurus wrestling with their inner designators as they suffered for (naming) their art.

Consider this classic case. What should this iconic painting really be called? Take a shot:

Clem, tell me again that I look like Jennifer Aniston...

Are you ready for the country…?

(a) _____ The Nebraska Pitchfork Massacre
(b) _____ Proud Parents of an American Goth
(c) _____ Farmers Gone Wild!!!!!
(d) _____ Where’s the Children of the Corn When You Need Them?
(e) _____ NOTA (Your Snarkier Title Here)

See? That just fine tunes the whole aesthetic ambiance. Seems to me that any old picture blah blah blahblahblah no matter how totally pedestrian and campy bloggity narf zort bloggity blogblogblog or how completely cartoonish yadda yoda yiddish yucky yaddayadda could be used to both illustrate if not elucidate blitherblither bluto biclighter blatherblatherblather my puzzling nomenclature crisis hypothesis zzzzzap zzzzzap zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

Can I use your cell to phone home?

While. Foolish. Blogger. Rambles. On. Insipidly. Zoltar. Will. Just. Quickly. Borrow. This. Small. Item. From. Blogger’s. Home.

…zzzzzzz zzzooorrrttt zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Go for it:

(a) _____ [Sung to the Quizno’s Jingle] Ack Ack Ack Ack … Good!
(b) _____ Still Life with Cranium
(c) _____ A Most Unexpected Aubade
(d) _____ Take Me to Your Viagra
(e) _____ NOTA (Your Zippier Title Here)

Well, that pretty much taps out my so-called thoughts and your endurance for one night. See you next time…unless…like… you know…you happen to actually… see my name under the post…before you start reading…or something…

[door slams]

[door opens]

Hi, Honey. I’m home. Man, what a tough night at the blog. I’m starv–

Uh, honey?



Key: Image 1: b; Image 2: c; Image 3: e; Image 4: Oh Who Cares.

Image 1 was made with Vchira. Image 2 was made with QuaSZ. Both were post-processed in various graphics program.


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2 thoughts on “"O, be some other name!"

  1. The last one should be called “Don’t worry, baby, I just want to swap your head with the chihuahua’s.”

    I like fractals as Rorschach tests. I always enjoy it when people see things that I hadn’t noticed, even when it’s completely opposite from what I was going for.

    On the other hand, I can’t simply number my images. They’d feel unfinished, like they’re just a random blob of color until a title defines them.

  2. I use to start from the title; means don’t like to “baptize” my works after they are done. I use to start from the title because usually I work with a concept which I try to represent. But often my art fails to represent something. I fail because my work is intrinsically hostile with the idea of naming something. Art is never an example of coherence. An artist, who believes he should name his works, may name badly or well. But an artist, who hates the idea of naming, will never name his works well. For me means we should never evaluate a work of art on the basis of its name.

    On naming art I collect a sentence of Odilon Redon, French painter:


    “The designation of my drawings by a title is often, so to speak, superfluous. A title is justified only when it is vague and even aims confusedly at the equivocal.”

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