Never before has an art exhibit’s title doubled as a set of instructions.
That’s according to Sherwin Tibayan, who — along with fellow University of Oklahoma students Lauren Barnes and Ken Sims — curated a different kind of photography show currently on display at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. All patrons have to do is follow the title: “Stare Stare Stereo.”
Stereograms are two alike images paired side by side; when viewed through a stereoscope — or sometimes through crossed eyes — a 3-D effect is achieved. But the stereograms in “Stare Stare Stereo” are different, in that they’re not true stereograms at all.
Tibayan said the trio was asked to curate a photography show that was tangentially related to architecture — one that could complement the museum’s recent “Bruce Goff: A Creative Mind” exhibit. In other words, portraits were out. The only other rule imposed is that the images were to be culled from the museum’s permanent collection.
“Looking through the images, we noticed there were stereograms as well,” he said, “and so that became kind of a working metaphor.”
Over the course of a year, they selected 20 images to appear in the exhibit as 10 pairs.
“It’s not so much that they’re the same that makes them work. They’re slightly different. They don’t really have much in common, other than they’re from the same collection,” Tibayan said. “That’s kind of cool, I think, that you can make an exhibition out of images that weren’t necessarily intended to relate to each other.”
So what’s the connection between each set? Well, that’s all up to the viewer, said Barnes, a photography senior.
“We ask the viewer to consider the photographs together and not one by one,” she said. “It’s all about creating a dialogue amongst yourself and others about what is being seen. That’s a step away from what a lot of people expect when they go into a photography exhibition.”
It’s more about how to look than what you are looking at.
Agreed Sims, an art history graduate student, “The exhibition is more about how to look than what you are looking at. It poses questions and fosters discussion instead of lecturing.”
A photography graduate student, Tibayan said the show’s structure invites visitors to immediately “go into ‘compare/contrast’ mode, and that’s just the beginning. If you can hold the viewer there longer, you might be able to get them to look critically … how the images might relate to one another. There’s no definitive answer.
“It’s not about who took the photos, when they took it, it’s on this kind of paper, and here’s some biographical information,” he said. “It’s very much about the image that’s been floating in front of you.”