Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interpreting the Storyline of a Graphic

Going back a few weeks, I suggested that graphical depiction may be a compound form of language (or verbal expression). If this is so, then it is, indeed, linear. When a person looks at an image, their eyes start in a particular place, and travel to other interesting spots in the image. This eye travel creates a path over the image -- a linear path. Where the eyes start and stop and start and stop along the path depends on those things in the graphic that attract attention. In looking at a picture, or a graphic, people visually traverse it in a linear fashion. As to what a pair of eyes might find interesting enough to fixate on -- is another discussion entirely -- but I do think Gestalt Principles may play a part in this (at the most fundamental level). For example, the intersection of two lines, or a bump on a line, is much more interesting, than an uninterrrupted straight line. A vertical line is more active (dynamic) than a horizontal line. A diagonal line is supposed to be even more active than a vertical line. I need to find more information about how lines and simple shapes are interpreted, how people find meaning in these basic outlines. This will provide some insight as to how we might interpret phosphenes.

Monday, September 17, 2007

First Patterns

This is a search for first patterns, the fundamental patterns that underpin human thought. I want to discover the language - both the vocabulary and the rules - of pattern thinking.

Why is it we see the same phosphene shapes in arts and crafts -- and even in nature? Fundamental patterns must be the most resilient, most robust, most balanced types of patterns-- that rely on the physical properties of our natural world. The reason triangular shapes are so strong, the stability of the hexagon. A pattern is a field of structures bound together by certain principles, or rules.

Some patterns are stable and balanced. Others are, by nature, unstable and act as attractors (with receptive components). Some modules within patterns resist bonding with other parts of the patterns (funny how much this sounds like the bonds of chemistry). Some patterns are unstable and receptive to joining another pattern field. Some patterns are stable and resistant to joining another pattern field.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

No evidence yet for Phosphene Maps

I haven't yet found any evidence in the drawing development of children for phosphene maps. Children draw scribbles, then straight lines, then curved lines, then closed shapes, the 'tadpole' figure, and then a stick figure with a body in a scene. There doesn't seem to be any mapmaking going on. I had hoped to find evidence of geometric patterns in early toddlers, but so far there doesn't seem to be any. This lack of evidence would support theories that geometric maps are actually more advanced than pictorial ones.

There are cultures where geometric patterns emerge as a dominant motif in art and decoration and for ceremonial purposes -- Native American cultures. It's also interesting to note that cultures such as these usually do not have a written language. They have an oral tradition, and then use geometric and curvilinear graphics to designate symbolic meanings.

I need to investigate more about cuneiform writing and the Mayan culture.

It may very well be that the geometric representations are a different branch of communication or expression that is unique to some cultures who (perhaps) are more oriented in right-brain (for lack of a better label at the moment) values.

I plan to read (again) Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin. This may offer some insight about visual representations and visual thinking.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Jennifer Bartlett - Painter

In the early 80s, while working on my arts degree, I became transfixed by the art of Jennifer Bartlett when her first series of paintings called "In the Garden" were featured in an arts magazine. The fact that I liked her work greatly surprised me, because I didn't really like contemporary art. My attitude towards contemporary art has always been, "I'm living it. Why do I need to look at it? Why remind me of what I already know?"

Anyway, I haven't even thought about Jennifer Bartlett for years, but with renewed interest discovered that one of her recent exhibits involves painting images of maps, and that she actually started out as a map maker. There is something in her work that represents some kind of 'first principles' of perception and cognition. Something fundamental about how humans represent and know about their world. Something timeless.

In the words of critic Maurice Berger, Bartlett’s art “juxtaposes the raw and the cooked, examining the way the world is filtered through the human mind and is encoded into cultural conventions or sign systems.”