Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Open Mind, The Internal Library of Images, and Problem Solving

Open Mind and the Internal Library of Images seems like a long title and maybe, of a set of phenomena that aren't related. Or are they?

My rust holder

As a biologist with many years of training and an eye for nature, I have often "prided myself," if you can say that, on the wealth of internal images I have, images that seem to have emerged lately in my ceramic sculpture. My opportunities for seeing have been enhanced partly because of my choice to study organismic biology instead of doing what became a huge fad during my doctoral research time, genomics and phylogeny. So rather than being stuck in a lab, most of my time was spent doing field work. My work in the field attuned me to nature, provided many opportunities for observing landscapes and their details, and gave me a chance to nurture my own feelings for aesthetics.

Milkweed seeds

Huge Erosion

The Shape of Rust

I try to teach my students about "seeing," with limited success I think, maybe because they are still young. And maybe because their minds aren't that open.

What do you do to have an "open mind?" How do you keep the flow of images and impressions coming? I think there are many factors to this.

For one thing, I try to look carefully. Maybe it's part of my training, having to look carefully at microscopic features of living things. And maybe it's just what I like to do. I'll stare at a plant bud or a leaf pattern or a painting for minutes on end.

Flower buds

Maybe part of seeing has to do with looking at a range of things, not just focusing on one class of visuals. So, instead of just looking at flowers I like to look at maps and rocks and shadows and patterns of soap bubbles on the countertop. Sometimes I just delve into flickr and look at what other people are seeing and recording.

Granite and bubbles

Soap on granite

Granite collision

Keeping an open mind may have to do with scanning and responding to your immediate environment. As a bicycle commuter I have to watch closely the traffic, the drivers on their cell phones, car doors, and icy spots. It's not as nice as hanging out in a museum but I guess it does "sharpen the senses."

Public Transportation

What's the point of all this? I guess developing and maintaining visual acuity are connected with inspiration, connecting ideas, recalling images, and feeling the urge to create and innovate. Finally I suppose, this can lead to problem solving. What could be wrong with that?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting piece...I'm always impressed by how much observation is a skill that improves with practice. Drawing helps, too: I find that I always look at things more closely after a session of sketching,