The Art of Emergent Thought and Perceptions
The human eye is shot through with intelligence. In the distractions of the everyday, perception is perhaps less thoughtful. In learning how to look more conscientiously, we may sharpen the visual apparatus and unlock new modes of thinking.
Philosophers of art and aesthetics and educators have different ways of calling it, whether aesthetic perception or reflective perception, but this intelligent mode of perception is something like a kind of insight or burgeoning awareness of what is going on in the mind.
The fact that artists possess a greater capacity for insight than the everyday person through the medium of sight has been demonstrated in scientific studies. So what are artists doing differently?
Here are a few possibilities:
1.) Artists are naturally inclined to use full sensory awareness
2.) Artists’ minds work associatively
3.) Artists more easily access the subconscious mind
By comparison, the everyday person, is subject to the following pitfalls:
1.) They are more distracted by what is going on the surface of things
2.) People look (but don’t see) without recognizing their blind spots
3.) Those blind spots are expectations and past experiences
Paul Klee’s Hoffmannesque Scene of 1940 is a wonderful example of how we can learn visual intelligence from even the most abstract expression of an idea. When I looked at this painting, I immediately thought of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Der Sandmann, a horrifying novella that goes on relentlessly about a child’s nightmare that becomes a reality.
There was something in this painting, the paralyzed figure of the woman (even though Hoffmann’s protagonist is Nathanael) at the bottom left and the ladders up into the heavens, that made me think of this.
Given the knowledge we have and what lies beneath the surface in our minds, visual queues can unlock insights and answers.