What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet. Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Act ii. (That’s certainly true for my little granddaughter, Rose!).
It’s a good question. After all what is in a title? There is potential to get it terribly wrong. On the other hand, get it right and books like ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ so inspire people’s imagination with their title that they fly off the shelves no sooner than the ink is dry.
However you look at it, it’s worth taking a bit of time to get it right. For works of art, it may simply describe what is there, such as Two Pears in a Bowl, but a title also has the power to inspire you or leave you puzzled. (see also La Fontanelle)
Many artists prefer to leave their work in the mysterious zone of ‘untitled’ (always with a lower case ‘u’). Even a local Hotel named themselves, untitled, supposedly with a reference to the artworks on the walls before it was taken over again and reverted back to its original name, The Abbey. Does ‘untitling’ an artwork make it less important (the fact that it is untitled is a title in itself), or is the artist just lazy? Sometimes it is genuinely difficult to find the right title for a work and ‘untitled‘ seems like the only real solution.
These days I am more likely to work in series, each individual work becomes part of the bigger picture like the piece in a jig-saw puzzle. The title in this case then becomes a collective theme for the series and individual pieces in the series are numbered to identify them.
My geological works were categorized in this way: Polarize – a collection of work inspired by looking down the lens of a microscope and rotating a thin section of rock in polarizing lights; Rock Series – work exploring fragments and textures of rock surfaces; Strata – a video animation made with stitching many photomicrographs of thin sections of rock (I had taken with a camera looking down a microscope) into a moving image which had the effect of boring a hole through different layers of rock.
This sort of behaviour where work is sorted and arranged into categories is something that I have come to recognise as an important part of my practice. I even do this with my blog!