This exercise could either be done alone or with a group of friends. I would personally suggest the latter as this could be fun when you get to share each other's insights.
As the Transformers' famous motto goes, "more than meets the eye." Do things really seem to appear as they are? Or maybe perhaps we are seeing things jump out from our imagination? This is a fairly easy exercise, just a matter of looking things differently.
Hangout in any public place. It could be a park, public square, anywhere where there are lots of people and things. Bring a camera (it doesn't have to be a DSLR). Find these things within the area you're currently in and take snapshots of them.
- Body parts in cars
- Faces in clouds
- Organic plant-like shapes in inanimate objects
- Machinery-like shapes in living things
- Animals in plants
- Plants in animals
- Alphabet letters in objects
The list could actually go on, but the crucial factor here is we look for the elements of one thing in another. Like, taking a picture of a car, especially the front. In some strange sense, doesn't it look like a person's face? The headlights replaces the eyes, the grill for the mouth, etc... come to think of it, you could watch Cars, and you'd see what we mean.
We get to train our imagination to look for things that aren't necessarily there, and make a conscious association between two or more things that aren't related with one another by breaking them down into their visual elemental parts. Remember this psychological test in grade school where we're made to make shapes from completely random ink blots on paper? It's called the Rorschach Test: theinkblot.com/. So that's where the Watchmen character got his name. It also makes us conscious of how our imagination makes of things around us. If you know how your imagination works, the better you are off in focusing its direction.
What do we get out of this? By realizing we could find things in another things, we are emancipated from the normal bounds of how society would perceive reality. If you take it one step further, we could make surreal imagery by bending current reality and replacing it with another. We look at this as form of parody or "spoof." A good example would be Salvador Dali's Melting Clocks. Instead of immediately doubting with, "why are clocks melting?" we could appreciate the effort and say, "oh so that's how you melt clocks." This could also explain why man tends to invent things in his image and liking. We like to see ourselves in other things.
We could ground personal interpretation properly in such paradigm shift. The element replacement and representation could be used as a vehicle for us to bring the viewer into our imagination and back. We get the chance to make our own version of a particular established reality, but still anchored to what is familiar to most people by substituting the elements we want to appear in our final image.