your gestures mirror what you find. your colors, shapes and your memories are not just things sitting out there. they are things that you actually created and helped shape. so the dance between you and the world all of a sudden becomes extremely intimate.
By ro / lu in misc
Published: Friday, 16 March 12 - 08:10 AM (GMT -06:00)
Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 12 - 01:09 PM (GMT -06:00)
jcj vanderheyden's studio with cloud, 1995
hello brothers and sisters, it's claudette the intern.
after a brief break last friday, we are back to regular scheduling. here i am with my thoughts on the third installment of art meets science and spirituality in a changing economy, the series of videos i've been sharing for few weeks. (here's previous related posts 1 -- 2 -- 3) the theme of today's discussion is the crisis of perception and on the panel we've got artist jcj vanderheyden (who, incidentally and sadly, just passed away just two weeks ago), scientist francisco varela, spiritualist mother tessa bielecki and economist jm pinheiro neto.
interestingly, just like the other scientists from the previous panels, varela seems to lead this discussion. he even owns up to this role when he says that scientists are "myth weavers, modern storytellers." i am pleasantly struck by this. maybe because it goes against what i think of science. storytelling implies creativity, taking some liberties. i certainly didn't think that science concerned itself with such subjectivity.
i will attempt to retell varela's story.
varela uses the concept of color and vision to illustrate the difference between perception and knowledge. he reminds us that perception is something that has to do with information pick-up and processing. the fundamental act of perception is precisely that drawing out, into the visible, something that wasn't there as visible previously.
"the fact that you see in 3 dimensions and certain kinds of colors is a way of obscuring; it is not a way of knowing. in fact, vision is the most trompe l'oeil that you can imagine because it gives you the impression that things are far away, that you couldn't possibly have anything to do with what is out there in space. but, yet, the quality of space is inseparable from the way we are constituted. so in that sense, vision is the most tricky of all senses. vision is biggest obstacle to knowing."
large checkerboard, 1990 - jcj vanderheyden
if you try to find where the content of color is, and say that the color of blue is contained in some property of the light or some property of a surface, you will not find it there. similarly, if you go the opposite direction, and think that color must be a sort of outer projection from elsewhere and unto the surface, you will not find that source of projection either. color is a property of our perception; it is not the reality. perception is only one small part of what varela calls a 'creation of multiple worlds', or multiversality, a word/concept i am pretty sure he invented. according to this concept, reality is not sitting out there, waiting to be 'perceived'. it is neither sound nor constructed. it is a process in which what you do and how you find it are inseparable.
once you understand this circularity between subject and object, then you give up the idea of objectivism, the notion that somewhere, somehow, there is a solid touchstone of reality and that if you scratch deep enough, you're going to get to it. this rejection should not be nihilistic in nature either, according to varela. nihilism comes from a reaction to the loss of faith in objectivism. nihilism is an extreme response to the collapse of what was once believed to provide a sure and absolute point of reference. therefore, nihilism and objectivism are essentially two opposing ends of the same spectrum in the grasping mind. the reality is that we don't stand on solid ground contrary to what the two extremes suggest. reality, varela points out, is comparatively like a state of groundlessness. to realize the fundamental groundlessness of the subjective / objective dualism is precisely to "step out" of this dualism.
jcj vanderheyden's studio with curved horizon, 1993
mother tessa i believe is in accord with valera when she says that: "we all operate out of deeper levels of perception and deeper ways of knowing than rational ways of knowing." jcj vanderheyden views perception, just like reflection, as only a starting point for him as an artist. i love this following line of his: "the eye is an intermedium, but the brain…or perhaps it's not the brain, is the thing behind it." not sure how that fits into everything but it sure does fit.
as an exit, because it seems fitting, i will paraphrase something matt said a few days ago...
please enjoy your uncertain steps today....after all, we live in a constant state of groundlessness.
posted by claudette gacuti