If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Eileen Cowin on her series "I See What You're Saying"

Combining text and photography, contemporary artist Eileen Cowin explores narrative within her work. Created by Getty Museum.

Want to join the conversation?

No posts yet.

Video transcript

Voiceover: Eileen Cowin discusses her 2002 series of photographs, I See What You're Saying. (slow piano music) Voiceover: All my work has really been based in the idea of the relationship between fact and fiction, and the line between the two. I think that I use my photographic images in some way to get across an idea about storytelling. (turning pages of a book) I started working on these images because I became interested in the idea of lying. Pick the title, I See What You're Saying. Let's say, you say, "I love you." Then someone says, "I love you too." Maybe the I love you too is not really happening, it's not in the expression on their face, so you really see what they're saying, literally. (slow piano music) The first [dictive] was the very first one that I made. The images of a woman's eye and you can't quite tell where she's looking, and then on the opposite side is an image of a book where some of the lines have been peeled away. If you go up closely, you'll be able to see that it's a fairy tale. Anytime that you use text it has almost an authority over the visual images. However, I try to make the images of the eye and the woman with the fork, and the close eyes, and the cupcakes so strong that it actually does challenge it. You're not saying this equals this. One thing will make you look at something else differently. I don't think that I initially thought about the senses when I first started doing this but I wanted you to almost taste that cupcake, to feel that cold fork on your tongue. I wanted it to be almost like a visceral feeling. Like that mustache over that icing. Like something coming out of your mouth that seems sweet but if you really thought about it, it's not really. Like a lie.