Ed Ruscha has elevated the importance of text in artwork over the last fifty years. Many of his pieces involve the usage of single words or catch phrases set against backgrounds from the sublime to the surreal. But, beyond the minimal or Conceptual presentations of John Baldessari, Ruscha’s display of visual imagery by means of distorting proportional relationships and shifting space through different points of perspective places the viewer inside paragraphs and whispers and shouts on the set of art-theater as he actualizes the associative part between written and seen imagination.
His work Metro, Petro, Neuro, Psycho highlights the differences between our right- and left-brains: the phenomenal dichotomy of trying to disassemble an image in our mind to figure it out while simultaneously trying to view an image in-complete to absorb its essence, the grander idea an artist presents us with. Here, we seem to get lost inside the combination of four separate pieces of text woven together. His choice of hues plays into the 3D movies of yesteryear and easily references his love for, or at least influence from, Los Angeles and Hollywood, two places that seem one-dimensional yet are actually deeply layered systems of facade. His choice of text is brilliant, bringing together four otherwise unrelated statements to create a dynamic square of association. While his use of height initially appears to be a manipulated contrast on its own, further examination shows that height works with type size to create the back-and-forth movement against the ground. His deft removal of a single hyphen on the top level subconsciously plays into the visual trickery and assists in the overall creation of a delusional space where our brain seems to experience the quick onset of a tremor only to suddenly realize what is going on. Once we have our realization, we then begin to ponder how the artist has played with our mind and eyes, and suddenly have another quick seize of psychological frenzy and magic show surprise.