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An ODE is a Story

It begins with an image. And the location we choose is almost always an intuitive guess. In my mind it has to have some thematic relevance but also offer an opportunity for interesting curves, texture, shadows, light. The photograph I ultimately select says something about the person, but it also acts as a palette that will contain a story.

Taft here had just graduated high school and was going off to college back east. And we wanted this to be a tribute to her spirit and to her life. Just below the surface we see more. And only through one’s willingness to explore, to want to know, can we truly absorb a story. Here she stands, exuberant, above the city that helped make her who she is. She’s wearing the cool pants she made. And she’s ready to take on the world.

This ODE is dense. There’s a lot to explore here. Some words are large and thus easy to read upon first glance, others are small, requiring further exploration. This is intentional. I have always imagined ODEs as interactive maps that yield more information the deeper you look. Like fractals. In some ways they are like Hidden Object games that only reveal their true mysteries upon closer inspection.

Some people have told me that ODEs will never work, they won’t catch on, because people don’t read. In the era of social media people demand instant comprehension. That may be true but I still believe that for some people, the extra effort will yield a reward worth the effort. Instant gratification, like junk food, is not a lasting gratification. Instagram and Tumblr offer us plenty of Snackfood. ODEs are not that.

If takes time to know someone. Time you have to invest. And the payoff for that investment is a story that becomes part of you. Our stories are the nourishment for our souls. I truly believe that.

You start with an image. One that conveys emotion, and then you add snippets of story, and you build a depiction of a human being. It’s not the full picture, not even close, but it’s a portal into something more meaningful than a selfie or a Tweet. And we need that now. We need authenticity and the willingness to be truly seen.

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