I often come across objects and compositions that seem to demand to be photographed, frequently for reasons that elude me. Pairs of forms are one category of these photo lures, and I have recorded many: doors, signs, windows, people, cannons, even hoses. Click here for a few examples. I assume that I am attracted to things that come in two’s because they mirror our anatomy. Our ears, eyes, arms, breasts, feet and such come in pairs, and we apparently like to see things in our own image. The happy unions of couples or the idea of animals going into Noah’s Ark two by two might be equally valid as a justification for my attraction to pairs. Our fondness for symmetry is another rationale. Some say that symmetry is the bedrock of beauty, and studies have shown that the faces we find the most beautiful are the most symmetrical. Denzel Washington is often used as a poster boy for this theory, though the sculpted features of Audrey Hepburn or Angelina Jolie will do just as well.
This latter rationale doesn’t work for me. I am often drawn to unmatched pairs because of the tension between two different forms and the intrigue and energy it generates more than symmetric beauty. Seeing the nuances between two similar but not mirror forms creates another fascination. This is particularly true with the human figures I have used as visual examples. To be interesting they have to share some unique bond, such as clothing, posture, gender, or hair. Underneath this attraction may be the fact that no two forms, whether snowflakes or twins, are really identical, underlying the respect we have for individuality and diversity and our appreciation for differences.
In the end, I don’t really know why pairs attract me. I do know that finding a compelling visual twosome is not so easy. See for yourself. But finding compelling visuals of three forms is much tougher. And when things come in fours they become another type of pattern altogether. I would be grateful for any elucidation on this topic and any images you might send along that help me sort this out.
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