Art & Aesthetics Art Blog
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn__™t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Pettry amzanig huh?
Words, not letters, are the building blocks of language and spell-checking is optional in the human brain. Wondering if this self-correcting phenomenon also occurred in visual art, I randomly took an image of Georges Seurat__™s familiar masterpiece ___A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte,___ divided it into 49 equal parts and turned each part upside down. Yep, I can still recognize it, but I__™ve found that 49 is the optimal quantity to obscure a picture in this manner. Any less means bigger pieces and soon leaves the whole picture upside down. Any more, and the pieces reduce to pixels that can spin without changing the image. I__™m a scientific guy, but 7 up by 7 across seems pretty mystical.
So the brain is also forgiving when viewing art; it takes what you give it and fills in the gaps as it sees fit. This is true with both representational and abstract art. I like to straddle the borderline of recognition when drawing pictures. My line art has about a ten-percent threshold of recognition which means that large portions of a drawing are unidentifiable if separated from the whole shebang.
The detail shown below is from my linear translation of Seurat__™s piece. On its own, it makes one wonder what are these morphological mutations that seem to look like something, but who knows what? Well, it has to do with phenomenology: the structures of consciousness when experiencing the meaning of an object " or as I like to think of it: how things look when we™re not looking at them. In this case, the said morph-o-doodles turn into children and monkeys and lovers and soldiers as soon as we divert our gaze by one degree. Only in context to the whole does it make any sense at all. It__™s not what you see, but how you see it. Fortunately, my work being a scientific investigation spares me the sanctimony of the ___you call this art?___ crowd.
Then again, Georges Seurat was scientific too, what with his pointillism trying to emulate the physics of light. My line investigations are more cerebral. If I were viewing Seurat__™s bourgeois beachscape and leisurely strollers, you could check my brain with Doppler color radar (or whatever tomography the medicos are using today) and find the brightest mental storms clumped around the lateral geniculate nucleus because that__™s where colors are mixed in the brain. My pen and ink rendition, on the other hand, would affect hot spots near the layer of feature-cells in the visual cortex because of the way the eye pinballs through my ink map of the original. I__™ve actually drawn a maze into this picture-puzzle. As for the words that started this, they light up different parts of the brain like Broca__™s area and Wernicke__™s neighborhood.
Still, the visual cortex forgives the ambiguous (but decorative) squibs and blotches as generously as the more cognitive regions ignore typos. The big picture emerges from the seamy details largely due to memory traces plowed in the furrows of gray matter. In conclusion, I submit that the pre-attentive process of vision averages out background noise until some figure grabs your attention, be it a top hat or a big bustle, for scrutiny by pin-point focus __" and, oh yeah, that limited-edition screen prints of my pen & ink homage to Seurat are still available. Forty bucks.