|Name this image!|
A title collapses the wave function of an image's meaning.
The line popped into my mind when I was trying to figure out a caption for last Saturday's image of a warrior woman and Supergirl. It was from a set of photos I took in a session combining various action figures in random poses.
Since there was no preconceived story behind the picture, when I started playing around with title ideas I realized it could be interpreted in many different way. For instance, Supergirl could be lounging in the afterglow of a sexual encounter. Or the warrior might represent a fierce external persona hiding the more vulnerable character in the background. And so on.
The title I eventually ended up with (Even Superheroes Get The Blues) was still somewhat ambiguous. But it made me realize that reading an image's title is like looking inside the box in Schrödinger's thought experiment about the cat. It collapses the universe of potential interpretations into a constrained set.
For most practical purposes, that's a good thing. If an image is of a documentary nature, accompanying text helps guide a viewer to a more accurate interpretation of the physical-world occurrence that was captured. In an artistic work, a title allows the creator to more clearly reveal her intended meaning.
Still, something inside me recoils at the hubris of believing I am more than a medium of expression for the works that emerge from my consciousness. And I wonder why I feel the need to restrain an image from expressing its entire universe of potential meaning.