In 1917, Marcel Duchamp found a porcelain urinal and put it on a stand. He titled it Fountain and signed it R.Mutt. He then submitted it to The Society of Independent Artists', paid the show fee and waited. It was rejected by the committee even though all works were to be included in the show as long as the entrant paid the fee.
This, of course, stimulated controversy and the Dadaists got involved by publishing its photo along with an editorial in their publication The Blind Man. It proclaimed:
"Whether Mr Mutt made the fountain with his own hands or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new thought for that object."[source]
In 2014, I began The Pareidolia Project. My thought was to create a refresher course for anyone who was interested in seeing their daily lives with new interest. I take photos of things that most people scoff at: garbage, sidewalk cracks, oil splotches. My cardinal rule is to never touch or in any way alter what I see. With this project, I am not interested in crafting something with my hands, I am interested in singling something out and presenting it for interpretation.
I always see something in the things I shoot (I practice pareidolia, after all) and I ask others to tell me what they may see the same or differently. The point is to exercise our right to see beyond what we know, to think creatively past what we assume to be true. And happily, the great bi-product of this way of looking is the addition of some very welcomed humor in our sometimes humdrum lives.
Sure the Fountain is a urinal but it certainly can be a fountain, too. Isn't the definition of a fountain some sort of receptacle that shoots water into the air and catches it back? Isn't liquid always cascading into such a receptacle?
Sure Spirit Bird is the smushed leftovers of somebody's lunch. But can't you also see the shape of a proud white bird, its talons holding a fish below it and arching around its head the faint outline of a halo?
Take a look at some of your recent photos and try and see them through Duchamp's eyes. Are there any that change meaning or tell a surprisingly different story?