- the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect ."the juxtaposition of these two images"
This is one of my favorite words, probably because hardly anyone knows what it is. Play it during a game of Scrabble and I guarantee that someone will call bullshit and demand an official confirmation.
Juxtaposition is the simple act of visual comparison in a thoughtful way...that is, until Ad men bastardized the concept for the mass commercialization of products you can't possibly live without. You've seen the ads for the commercial weight loss products: the obscenely, heavy slob of a man posing in his small shorts smartly placed next to his sexy, skinny, sculpted twin. (Alliteration aside) Ad men have been using it for decades, but its creative use lends itself to a much more wider application than simple commercial advertising.
In art and architecture, juxtaposition goes far beyond simple before and after imagery. It becomes the balance of contradictory subject matter within your frame of view. The imagery almost becomes surreal and can challenge your own perceptions. In many cases, you find yourself asking, "Why?" But, that question provokes a much deeper level of thinking, pushing you to explore the true meaning of the work and what the artist was really trying to communicate. In our world, juxtaposition challenges cultural norms and assumptions with a special twist.
Juxtaposition even has a comedic or satirical quality that allows the novice to exhibit the irony in our world. There are entire Instagram pages devoted to these tongue-in-cheek snapshots of everyday life.
Without juxtaposition, our lives would be bland and our art would be stylistically beautiful, balanced, and boring. So, the next time you see an iPhone cover with the image of an old rotary phone or a pink Harley Davidson ridden by a disheveled, bearded biker, know that juxtaposition provides us with the quirky perspective of what we believe normal to be. You also now have a 29-point word to play on the Scrabble board.