“Bee in salal blossom” View and purchase full resolution image here.
Yesterday, I discovered a bookmark in my memory that gave rise to a set of questions, when I came across some notes from May 16, 2007 about building the visual field that I had made in an art class taught by Glenn Howarth. The following questions arise from my musings about these notes and the use digital and photoshop tools to create images.
What is this passion we have for cleansing images of anything less than perfect?
Can it possibly damage our ability to trust our viewer to see?
Let me explain, as best I can, without taking us too far down “the science of seeing” rabbit hole. When we “see,” the brain needs to imagine most of our reality through a system of expectation. This is because the human eye has only a 15 degree visual arc of acuity or sharp high-resolution colour visual field. We commonly believe that we “see” everything as if it were in this a 15 degree visual arc called fovea vision. This is not true. Our human eye must build a visual field using rapid eye movements and short-term memory so the brain can “create” the image we “see.” Most of the rest of our visual field has about 50 percent acuity and 50 percent colour perception with the far reaches of our peripheral vision seeing only movement in black and white.
Photographs like the bumble bee in a sala blossom image above hold more information in acuity than our eye actually can see at one time without using rapid eye movement to create the image for us. You may be able to notice how you look at this image and be able to catch the eye movement between the bee and the blossom both of which are in sharp focus and then notice how you can “see” the whole picture that is in focus.
Rapid eye movement happens very quickly, at about 3 times a second, and is something we are not consciously aware of, so if you don’t notice there is a reasonable explanation.
If you want to know more, I found this youtube video “Human Senses Touch and Vision” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2sWE0qaOjg&feature=related About 3 minutes in they explain and show how our eyes and brain build a visual field.
Because our brain must “create” a sharp, coloured field of vision, it has a selection process for seeing. We fill in blanks and leave out information that history tells our brain is not relevant both consciously AND subconsciously. I am fascinated with the impact this has on our creativity whether it is visual, written or auditory. Here is a series of my quick charcoal sketches from 2007.
I did these sketches while purposefully “seeing” using my sight beyond the 15 degree visual arc of acuity by paying attention to what is in my peripheral visual field allowing the hand to record the image with as little as possible interference from my fovea vision.
This lesson stuck and I continue to create my work while exploring this way of “seeing” or consciously experiencing the world.
It is not too much of stretch then, to consider that when we create an image that has high-resolution colour and sharp focus over a larger area we are doing the work of the viewer’s brain “to see” or create that image. If we go the next step and take out “irrelevant information” we are also choosing for the viewer’s brain what is important to see. Your created work has become a powerful editing filter for the viewer. To some extent this is what happens anytime we create. The question I pose is more about how much of a filter is too much filtering and can it actually interfering with the viewer’s ability “to see” what we want to express? And can we hold the viewer’s attention when we do the work of the viewer’s brain to build most their visual field when experiencing our work?
Could it be that the gaps in our expression are of as much interest to the viewer as the sharp clarity? Like say this image….
Sprout Question: How does your way of “seeing” impact your creativity?
On Thursday, I am going to explore further how our human visual system must learn to create spatial relationship between objects through touch and memory and what ways this learning may relate to our creativity.
© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.
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From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada