When we see, we see around corners because of our rapid eye movements, our moving feet and bobbing head… and because we touch things.
Tuesday’s post “Seeing and Creating” talked about how the brain builds a visual field using rapid eye movement to create the image we are seeing. Some of the information that the brain uses to build an image comes from a history of spatial measurements that we have gathered through touch.
Seeing takes more than our eyes. We must learn spatial relationship, specifically our spatial relationship to other objects. We discover how to see where things are through practice using our hands and feet to touch and move around our world. Babies reach for our faces. Children will crawl, climb, run and jump with varying degrees of success as their brains and bodies learn to coordinate the distances of time and space. Our brain gathers and reuses these measurements in combination with information received from our eyes to provide context and relational information about what we are looking at. This complex relationship of gathering and building our visual field happens constantly and rapidly. Most often we are not even aware of the process.
However when we are creating it is helpful to understand and consider this information in our work. Some of our work in building a visual field will happen intuitively. In fact, many situations a lot of our work in building a visual field will happen intuitively. We won’t know why we at first place a certain word in a particular sentence or why we paused the music on that particular note or why we made that particular mark off on the left side of the page or why we decided to include a particular boulder in our photograph. Mostly we just do what we do.
We can strengthen our work by increasing our conscious ability to build a visual field. A current practice of simplifying photographic images through noise reduction and sharpening and taking out what is not adding to the image is one way to play with how the visual field is built in the photograph.
Practices of adding, leaving or taking away in our creativity are not absolute creative positions but a tension we hold during the process of creating. It is in searching for lost and soft edges that I find I can most consciously building a visual field in my photography, painting and writing.
One tool or exercise we can use is to make marks or write words around your desired subject until it “appears” in your work. This helps us discover what clues or cues in the surrounding area are supporting our ability to see. In photography I do this by placing my desired object in various off-centre relationships in the frame. I change the height I take the image or the distance from the subject and so on.
Sprout Question: How do you know when less is no longer more?
Note: Here is a great reference I discovered as part of researching for today’s
The Senses of Touch: Haptics, Affects and Technologies by Mark Paterson (2007)
Also here is an online article that is also helpful – Eyes and Hands: The relationship between touch and space http://people.exeter.ac.uk/mwdp201/space.html
A question I can not answer is how people without use of hands or ability to walk develop spatial relationships in building their visual field. Does anyone know the answer or have a resource?
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