We have spoken before about the unseen crawlers – the people all around us, the poor, the homeless, the people we don’t want to see. The people that we look through. There is a very powerful recent image by the Jae C. Hong for the Associated Press that puts all of this in a new and very poignant perspective. It shows a homeless person in Los Angeles on January 14, 2014 sleeping beneath a mural painted by artist Ruben Soto. In Los Angeles homelessness has increased 15 percent from 2011 to 2013.
The picture functions on so many different levels. First there is the sense of seeing the unseen. But then you realize that the eyes themselves are really only a masquerade. It is as if we are faking the seeing. And for me there is just something strange about the face. I cannot quite place it. Maybe it’s because it is looking at us not the sleeping man. I also believe that there is a sense of imbalance. The face is huge, the man small. The figure of the man and his bundle of earthly possesions also is not quite dynamically balanced. All of this creates a wonderful sense of imbalance and of foreground-background switch. This is a wonderful and very telling image.