Lets look at this image, what do we see? Who do we see? It’s most likely that we see a crowd with one person who has a really big nose and relatively big eyes.
Assuming this much, why do we only see the extreme—that which is different—and we don’t see or remember the rest? The answer is simple: excess is one of the fundamental principals in how information is communicated.
In this sense, what is defined as normal or logical seems to only function as a bridge, as a mere parameter by which particularities inform and establish meaning through their extremes.
Excess in a nose or eyes, excess in weight or size, even excess in love or in suffering—All seem to take prominence and place in the hierarchy of meaning if they exceed a predetermined expectation within their context. Just look at how we refer to strangers: that one in the red shirt or that one with the long hair.
In this way, we see that excess is the deceptive foundation of visual communication; so deceptive that one extreme has the power to override all other extremes or particularities.
Let us return to the above image, it is most likely that nobody noticed that the person with the big nose and eyes is also the only person smiling. This smile is overshadowed by the more excessive of the two extremes: his nose—something that while visually more significant, holds much less significance emotionally.
Also, we can imagine that for everyone else including ourselves, we represent an extreme of something, whether it is a story, an experience or some other aspect in our lives. What is it that we remember most about our lives? The moments, which exceed the norm; exaggerated moments; or those experiences, which are too intense to forget.
That is why the extreme is also what defines and expresses the particularities of our desires. The extreme is that which makes us unique, articulating and synthesizing for us the most significant experiences and interests of our lives; and thus, making us that which we are. In the end, what are we if not an extreme?
© Sebastian Guerrini, 2010