Contests of Power

In a black and white episode of Perry Mason that I saw as a rerun in 2000, some fashion illustrations were featured as an important clue in a case. The designs were a kind of illustration in two colors plus a black definition line, where there was a “background color” that included everything that was not the garment, the garment was contrasted in white, and then the entire design was given form and detailed with black line. The effect of only contrasting the dress against everything else stunned me with how effortlessly it gave importance to the garment and withdrew importance from the figure, and that it communicated from this mode with no rendering and minimal suspension of disbelief. It moved into a style that was sleek, low effort/high concept and could occasionally show a controlled, reserved facility of talent.

Artistic Question

“Can simplifying a description cause a more intense narrative? Can limiting colors in an image somehow adjust perceptions of the subject’s behavior? What can a figurative subject do, under these circumstances, while still being less noticeable than their dress?” I saw these as rich questions and the three-color system to be the best tool to contrast the ideas of conformity of behavior and conformity of form against one another.