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RSN Random Sequence Narrative

Updated: Aug 21, 2022

The thought starts when I laid out a selection of unrelated photographs, together like this they take on a sequence, a series of pictures firstly related because of their position, secondly formed into a sequence only by the viewer. The viewer is trained to view the otherwise unrelated images in this way (left to right, top to bottom.) In this case each image represents a time, or a stage in the sequence or story. Our reading of the images creates an automatic in built path of recognition of otherwise separate, chaotic or confusing image; we are constantly searching for understanding or maybe a narrative of some kind.

As the photographs were laid out at random the images started to inform each other, just because of their position in the sequence. Dark extreme close ups next to lighter abstract shapes, each in turn creating positive and negative spaces in the sequence. I was beginning to read the images as a story, a natural response, as if they were pictures in a book. Unrelated non-sequential abstract images. Narrative without a point. (Below is an example; though not with the original artworks that were exhibited with the "After it had Rained" story. The images below are from the "The Story Part 1 - 10" sequence and are available in the "On Photographs" gallery at

After It Had Rained

The two boys were just sitting by the roadside, it had rained about an hour ago so the reddy brown dust that was normally by the road had been turned into a thinish mud. As the boys sat there sheltered from the sun under an overhanging area of the hedge, they talked about what people actually meant when they said things . As one of the boys was speaking he poked at the ground with a stick that he had found earlier in the day, it had been used for many things during the course of their journey, now it was being poked at the soft earth, making shallow marks in the damp dust. The boy seemed distracted as he poked and spoke. After a little while the subject of conversation changed quite naturally. A cyclist rode past, he didn't notice them, it made no difference to them, his bicycle did make the bicycle wheels on wet road noise which reminded them of something.

The boy without the stick got up and started looking for one amongst the hedgerow. The stick he found wasn't as long as the other boys but he was shorter than him by a few inches. After showing the other boy who was still resting in the shade, he started scraping the ground nearer to the road with his stick. The boy under the tree watched a bird a few yards further down the road, pecking at the soil for grubs which had come to the surface to feed on the minerals that the rain had washed from the road, he could hear his friend scraping away in the soil as the bird flew away. He stood slowly and stretched, as the roar of tired muscles faded in his ears he heard the other boy calling him, who was standing proudly over where he had been scraping the ground. Where the sun had dried the surface of the soil it was its normal reddy-brown colour, but where the surface layer had been scrapped away it was a dark, deep brown, his friend had drawn the outline of a car with windows, door handles and even an aerial.

"I wish I had a camera." Said his friend. As he looked down the road again, the bird had landed and was pecking at the earth again. "What good would that do?" he responded still looking at the bird, the bird flew off as a car passed quickly on the road behind them, he was unsure whether his friend had heard his reply. He turned and looked at the other boy, they were both smiling, they walked down the road as the drawing faded in the sun, the damp soil beneath the surface returning to its usual reddy brown. The bird had landed again, this time where the boys had sat and was feasting on a pale worm as the tapping of the boys sticks became louder.

(Original story by Jonathan Oakes Copyright 1998)

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