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I discovered the account Me & You, 52 on Instagram a couple of years ago and was drawn to it for two reasons- one was the weekly themes that gave me something to think about creatively.  The other was the purposeful pairing of two pictures, created by two different photographers, into one diptych. It was a concept I hadn’t run across before.  I ended up chatting with Anika Toro, one of the co-founders about it- here is her story:

J: Tell me a bit about how the idea of Me & You, 52 was conceived?

AT: Me & You, 52 was started in 2011. Christy and I were on the Blogosphere a lot.  I had hosted a link-up on mine for mobile photography. We had both just gotten an iPhone and I think it changed the way we both looked at taking photos.  Christy contributed her shots every week to the link-up and we began a virtual friendship.  When we both started blogging less, I asked Christy if she wanted to collaborate in some fashion.  We both loved mobile imagery and so we went from there.  She had followed a side-by-side Polaroid project called the Polaroid Girls; I contributed to the defunct diptych project called The Miss Match Project – we both had a love for diptychs!  We wanted the project to span one year, 52 weeks, and to be prompted by something new each week..  So we decided that we could shoot for two rounds of the alphabet – we would follow the letters of the alphabet to guide each week’s word, each week’s inspiration.  When we got to the end of the round we realized that the creative push from the project was sometimes the driving force to keep us producing.  It challenged us to come up with ideas we wouldn’t have thought of if it weren’t for the project. So we went for another year!

images by Elke and Corinna Hofer, contributors

“H is for Horizon” by @deuxpieces

J: When did the project grow from just the two of you to include others?

AT: In early 2013 we both thought it would be even more fun to include other people’s perspectives.  More people were using their phones to create art and experiment.  It seemed like a good time to involve more people.  The more the merrier!  I have always loved collaborating and so think that I enjoy the project when it feels like more people are contributing their viewpoints.  We all see things in our own unique ways but sometimes we happen to think of the exact same thing, sometimes we imagine the lighting the same way, sometimes we happen to use the same apps, and sometimes we come up with something nobody else thought of. Then, when images are connected into a diptych, a story, they become something even more… They become half of the story -The Me to the You, the You to the Me.  For me, one of the best things about this project is the serendipity.  The connections made between our unplanned images start to get this groove where it’s not just a narrative that takes shape but our horizon lines match up, shadows blend perfectly into another’s image, the story on one side completes the end of a story we each didn’t know the ending to.  More artists means more interpretations, perspectives, inspiration, and more possibilities for impromptu story telling.

J: The serendipitous pairing is definitely one of my favorite parts of the account.  We end up seeing the visions of three artists in the end- the two created by the individuals, and the third created by you, who has paired them together. Can you pick a few of your all-time favorites and tell a little bit about them?

AT: Wow, well thanks so much.  Funny, but I feel like the diptych is second to the idea of mobile-only imagery.  I honestly haven’t really thought of it that way…until right now.  I think of the storytelling angle, yes.  But I guess I feel like I am facilitating a presentation for each image so that it can shine even brighter on its own while working in tandem to strengthen its neighbor’s image.  Even though a collaboration of sorts, I think of this project as an individual challenge; one created by the participating artists.  We each contribute our images without knowing what the other will be creating.  Even I try to stay ahead of the group so that I am not swayed to create something to match with another member’s image.  We all to come from the same place of not knowing, of using just our own experience to create from.  That way when images are put together it seems even more magical how they match up.  It’s like the personal inspiration comes first, the connections come second.   That said, I have always really loved the story telling of two images.
I do have a couple of favorites. The first pairings that come to mind are from the beginnings of the project when it was still just me and Christy.  Most of the earlier diptychs were less narrative and more graphic in nature.  For example, with “E is for Eyes”.  Our styles are quite different but seem to go together well in this duo.  We were both inspired by that week’s theme.  I feel like this diptych really showcases what we were trying to do when we started the project.

unknown

“E is for Eyes” by Anika and Christy 

With more voices come more possibilities for narratives.  I just posted a diptych with an image from Claire and an Instant Lab image from Chris.  It’s beautiful. They both were on the same page as far as the idea and even the coloring!  I was blown away when I got the second image of this pairing…it was too perfect.  This one for me, now, feels like what the project has become.

G is for Guide

“G is for Guide” by Chris and Claire

It’s nice to see how this project, this collaboration of sorts, is evolving.  I think that’s why I am drawn to a current pairing with Christy.  It’s interesting for me to look back and compare it to our earlier connections.  This was from a few weeks back and is “D is for Double”.

D is for Double

“D is for Double” by Christy and Anika 

J: Can you tell me a little more about Instant Lab and the Deuxpieces account?

AT: Gladly. During the last round {Round 5} I learned about the Impossible Project’s Instant Lab.  It was like a little fairy produced this magical camera – one that combined the spontaneity of Instant photography with a mobile device!  It seemed like the perfect thing to add to Me & You.  This all began with a love for mobile art; why not showcase it in another form?   I decided to seek out some Lab users who may like to join the project.  I tried to find artists that were passionate about instant photography, had experience using the Instant Lab, and that had a strong unique style.  {I think it may have also been an excuse for me to justify the purchase of more film.}  You know, every one of the Instant Lab shots, so far, have lined up perfectly with its partner…it’s wild!  Here is an example, “A is for Arch”. The Instant image {on the right} is by Keith.  It is partnered with Monica’s image.  To me it’s like one image is an abstract drawing of the other.  I love this one.  The addition of the Lab has been very inspiring.

A is for Arch

“A is for Arch” by Monica  and Keith

Also, new for round six is Deuxpieces.  Deuxpieces is an ongoing diptych project between Elke and Corinna.  I had known both Elke and Corinna from those way-back blogging days and have admired their photography and stories ever since.  We had discussed, a round or two back, how we might be able to work together and so for Round 6 we figured out a way.  The difference in their creations is that they make purposeful connections.  One of them will play off the other’s image and work from there.  Sometimes their diptych is connected by color or design, sometimes it’s planned conceptually, and other times one half of the diptych is half of the other’s half.  It’s a great project!  M&Y has always been about connecting the unplanned but the addition of Deuxpieces adds the intentional.  It’s interesting to compare the processes and see what two people working together come up with for the same exact inspiration that individuals create for (for example, “H is for Horizon”, shown at the top of the article).

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If you’d like to get involved, feel free to follow the Me & You, 52 account on Instagram and add to the #meandyou52 tag. You can also visit the blog site online, or if you are interested in being a part of the future of the project, you can contact Anika at anikatoro@gmail.com.

About Author

Jeff Kelley
Jeff can usually be found roaming the streets of Northampton, Massachusetts, pretending to deliver mail. Between deliveries he takes pictures with his iPhone, always in search of new ways of interpreting the world around him. His editing style ranges from minimal to outrageous, and constant experimentation, collaboration, and inspiration from other mobile photographers keeps Jeff motivated to try new things.
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