Thursday, September 3, 2009

Seeing with different eyes: How artists experience and translate the world.

This is not a scholarly treatise. This is an opinion and anecdotal evidence. This is not exclusive to visual artists. All of the artists I know, (lots) regardless of media, seem to share the ability to see the world differently.

We're all familiar with the cliche of the tortured artist: the Van Goghs, Rimbauds...etc. I won't belabor the point.
There's some scientific evidence that links creativity to neurological/genotypes common to schizotypal disorders and autism. (Google it. I'm not your momma. Oh, all right: the New Scientist, and Wikipedia. Start there.)

It got me thinking.

Artists/Creatives/Makers... we're not like other people. We don't think in the same way, we don't feel in the same way, everything is both experiential and detached. Polaroids of memory, but more than that. Scent, sound, texture, taste and emotion are all filed away in a little memory box with the Polaroid on the front so we can find it.

I'm lucky if I can find my keys in my hand, but I can tell you everything about the first time I ate a donut peach. I can rhapsodize about the best make-out session I've ever had.
The way desire actually tastes, in that moment of anticipation before you first kiss someone.
(a bitter tang in the back of the throat.)
Some people paint it, film it, photograph it, choreograph it, sculpt it.
I write it and usually speak it.

The best way I can describe it is that, we see with different eyes.

We map the world in 3D and store it for translation.

That's where we add the 4th dimension: Soul, consciousness, mind, self... we must be gods and heroes creating an archway into the worlds we create, regardless of medium.
Call it what you will, it's something that is tangibly intangible. Deus ex machina.

This, "sight," carries over into the rest of the world and the way we interact with it. We question more, we listen. We're drawn to certain kinds of people. We're sometimes self-destructive, sometimes self-aggrandizing, always walking the wire between the freaks and normals. It doesn't matter which group we identify with. We straddle the worlds. We may or may not function effectively in society. There is a broad spectrum. We often wear our personae like masks. Chameleons roaming the earth collecting secrets and stories.

I digress.

I have questions.

I wonder if most of the people I know who create, find that the following is true: Things that seem incredibly complex to, "Normal," people are incredibly obvious or simple. Things that are simple or obvious to, "Normal," people are layered with complexity. Yes/No? Why do you think it is or isn't true?

I started writing this because I know a number of exceptional people who are artists, musicians and writers. We seem to share a common quest, journeying along the path of consciousness. Not all, but many. I'm curious (always, can't help it,) to know if others find it the same. Casting a wider net via the blog to see if it is so.
I'll let you know how it turns out.


  1. Um. Yeah. I'm probably gonna come back to this, but...conceptualizing it is a challenge. Comment all ya like, I'll incorporate.

  2. Hey... I agree completely that people who either devote their time to, or appreciate, art in any form tend to analyze events, issues, problems etc. in a completely different way to those who live their lives on a very straight, logical (I'm tempted to say mainstream) path...

    But I don't think that 'artists' are born with this mindset... I think it's something that can be developed.

    I'm going to take myself as an example. When I was younger, I can safely say that I was a very 'regular' girl. Nothing different about me compared to the next average person, no visible talents... But suddenly, when I was 17, I went through a massive change of character, began to love music and photography and make-up (I know the last one is odd but I am rather good at it :) really passionately. It took leaving school, leaving my old 'friends' and finding a group of people with the same interests as I (unknowingly) had for this to happen. But I could swear that within about 6 months, the way I see things really changed from 'normal' to unusual, and in the last few years, I feel like I have been able to develop this further. I spend a lot of time searching through my own mind, sifting through thoughts, exploring my own emotions - I see myself as an extrovert but I'm perfectly happy being alone. And the way I see the world is getting wierder and better all the time.