Odd One Out

The idea of “the odd one out’ in an art context intrigued me, however, I was at first reluctant to explore this as my interest was purely based on fun/humour and I didn’t think this was enough for a fine art course. I kept trying to think of a deeper meaning or concept however forcing an idea never results in anything interesting and I knew my work would quickly reach a dead end.

This internal debate sparked questions about why I was so set on my artwork having to have a big deep concept. Does fine art have to ask big existential questions or make profound statements? Why can art not just be created for it’s own sake? An exploration of the mundane with the intention of ‘just seeing what happens’. With the idea of ‘the odd one out’ still lingering in my mind  I wanted to explore this perception of “fine art”. Assuming that the common belief is that art must have some kind of meaning, if I take something meaningless and call it art, what ideas will people project on to it?

I started with a series of short experiments focusing on a set of completely different stimuli – eg a deck of cards. Even if it is impossible for there to be an odd one out, if asked (particularly if asked in an art context), people will always come up with an answer. Because surely there has to be one?!?!?

Quick test with cards 1: Two possibilities for Odd One Out. King=only picture card, 2=only red
Quick test with photographs 2: Only one possibility for Odd one out – only black card and only non-number

I randomly dealt myself sets of 3 from a deck of cards then tried to identify the odd one out. Out of the 8 trials I did, only 2 didn’t have multiple options. This test became very analytical because I, as both the tester and the testee, had no subjectivity. Nevertheless, this test did show that even when each option is different (all 52 cards in a deck are different) an ‘odd one’ can be identified if asked. The problem with using a deck of cards, however, was that there are limited factors to make the cards unique e.g colour, suit, number/picture. Although, I was occasionally tempted to group cards together just because of their ‘vibe’ suggesting that choosing an odd one out is something we naturally do, without thought or reasoning.  I decided to repeat this experiment with photos, thinking there would be more variables.

Quick test with photographs 1: all can be the odd one out. Top= Multiple figures, No natural light, Dynamic action. Middle= Outside, Bright colour scheme. Bottom= Obscured identity of figure, Moody tone.
Quick test with photographs 2: Only one can be the odd one out as hard as a tried to come up with reasons for the other to be. Bottom = Different colour scheme, No figures, Different ‘vibe’

Again, this became analytical as I tried to come up with a reason why each one could feasibly be seen as the odd one out. In all but one, I found that each photo from the set could be made into the odd one out showing that everything is both odd and identical. as the artist, my reaction to these sets is somewhat invalid when exploring how viewers project their ideas on to artworks. I showed the sets to someone who didn’t know my focus, asking them to pick an odd one out the second they saw the set (see blue ticks). Interestingly, there was a definite link between my analysis of the images and gut-reaction. Would be interesting to carry this out on a large sample to see differences/similarities in perception.

Could come up with at least one reason why each could be the odd one out. Blue ticks show gut reaction of the volunteer.
Even after spending time trying to come up with some, couldn’t think of any reasons why 1 and 2 could be the odd one out. Blue ticks show gut reaction of volunteer.



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