me: What's that in the front yard?
2 yr old: Ohhhhh. It's a squirrel!
me: What's he doing?
2 yr old: I think he's eating something.
me: What's he eating?
2 yr old: He's eating chicken nuggets!
Before reading that actual verbal exchange I'll bet you never thought of a squirrel and chicken nuggets at the same time. Those two images are not logically related based on our normal life experiences so when we are force to think of them together we may be at a loss for how to respond. The pairing is strange and the unexpected nature of such a juxtaposition may cause a reflexive laughing response. But what happens when you think further about the relationship between the two images?
For a 2 year old to connect the squirrel and the chicken nugget so effortlessly there must be bridge between them...at least on some level.
For a rational thinking adult it would seem absurd that a squirrel would eat food processed and prepared by humans for human consumption. Yet to the child this seems completely plausible. Squirrels eat food. Food is defined as the things I eat. I eat chicken nuggets. This series of facts leads to the natural conclusion that squirrels eat chicken nuggets.
Still with me?
OK, try this one: You tell a child that his toy doesn't make noise anymore because the batteries are dead. He understands and the next time a toy doesn't light up he says, "Daddy, because it's batteries are dead?". He's got it.
So when the family pet goes on to that great big doghouse in the sky where all great warrior dogs gather for their final feast, you try to explain that Mr. Sparky will not be coming back home because he has died. And without missing a beat the child says, "It's OK Daddy, we just need to get him some new batteries!"
Not quite as funny, but you get another great pair of odd bedfellows.
When I combine seemingly disparate images in my sculptures and drawings the relationship between the images may not be immediately recognizable. There is certainly a connection between the images...a logical or illogical bridge but a bridge none-the-less. The idea is that the viewer will not walk up to the work of art and immediately "get it" and move on to something else. The hope is that I have provided enough intellectual bait to engage the viewer into thinking more about the images and why they might have been used together. After all, these things may be funny at times, but they're not jokes.