David Brooks recently wrote in an article,
“We are often under the illusion that seeing is a very simple thing. You see something, which is taking information in, and then you evaluate, which is the hard part. But in fact perception and evaluation are the same thing. We carry around unconscious mental maps, built by nature and experience, that organize how we scan the world and how we instantly interpret and order what we see… I never understand why artists want to get involved in partisanship and legislation. The real power lies in the ability to recode the mental maps people project into the world.”
“In the Japanese language, and thus in the society, a person is conceived of as a flexible and easily linkable dividuum, that is, as part split from and belonging to a larger whole. Everyone is educated to shake off the delusion of a separate individual ego, and to express supra-individual values… In contrast, the Western mind has tended to envisage the human being as a perfect and self-contained individuum (that is, indivisible whole) who should be educated to distinguish oneself from everyone else. We are encouraged to view the self as real, to discipline I and to express highly individual values. The desire to produce individual genius, a “superman,” has haunted all of Western history.”
Source: A really fascinating essay about the Japanese word “Ma” which deals with both the objective and subjective aspects of the idea of space.
I recently came across this quote in an essay by Robert Smithson, “A ‘logical picture’ differs from a natural or realistic picture in that it rarely looks like the thing it stands for. It is a two dimensional analogy or metaphor. A is to Z”
I realized that in my practice my primary interest is in logical pictures rather than representational work. Within that idea I’ve been thinking a lot about 3 categories: maps, diagrams, and notations. A map records an overview; a diagram distills the material of an indefinite field into a logical set of terms or relationships; a notation is a form of symbolic representation or record. I’m currently working on a series of drawings to explore and clarify these distinctions.
On Creativity by David Bohm. I can not recommend this book enough.
To paraphrase: Intelligence is a kind of mental alertness, which is in essence a sort of perception. It is flashes of insight which are not merely a product of memory and training because in each case we have to see anew. It is an act of perception in the mind but is also of the senses, aesthetic, and emotional. It does not arise primarily out of thought.
Here are some images from my show at Deep South Pops:
I loved seeing my art hanging in this venue. Deep South is such a cool place that really supports local artists and community.
Oed’ und leer das Meer (Empty and Desolate the Sea). Ink and graphite on watercolor paper
“One prerequisite for originality is clearly that a person shall not be inclined to impose his preconceptions on the fact as he sees it. Rather, he must be able to learn something new, even if this means that the ideas and notions that are comfortable or dear to him may be overturned…It is impossible to overemphasize the significance of this kind of learning in every phase of life, and the importance of giving the action of learning itself top priority, ahead of the specific content of what is to be learned. For the action of learning is the essence of real perception, in the sense that without it a person is unable to see, in any new situation, what is fact and what is not…
…One thing that prevents us from thus giving primary emphasis to the perception of what is new and different is that we are afraid to make mistakes. From early childhood, one is taught to maintain the image of “self” or “ego” as essentially perfect. Each mistake seems to reveal that one is an inferior sort of being, who will therefore, in some way, not be fully accepted by others…Such a fear of making a mistake is added to one’s habit of mechanical perception in terms of preconceived ideas and learning only for specific utilitarians purposes. All of these combine to make a person who cannon perceive what is new and who is therefore mediocre rather than original.”
~David Bohm, On Creativity
Go buy this book and read it if you’re at all interested in the creative process. His observations apply to the entire spectrum of creative activity, from scientists to artists.