Copyright © Andrea Arnold 2020

Eye vs Eye

I am currently focussed on what it is to see and to know and the limits of such knowledge. [...] The three methodologies that I am in the process of deriving for this are [...] inhabiting those moments when visual habits are suddenly broken in order to find ways to recreate them.

 

What I am looking for are methods of breaking visual habits.  The first two are about pushing through them.  The third is about those moments when we are jolted out of our habits, sometimes when the present moment comes as a shock, but not necessarily in such a powerful way.  There are those moments when the habit of not-seeing is temporarily suspended, this can be gentle, or suddenly intrusive or any one of the points in between. 

 

Although I can’t guarantee that the times this happens to me will work for others it is my own experience that I am starting with.  So I am paying attention when this happens, and calling up from memory occurrences from the past, in order to re-derive them.  Then I will need to test whether I can recreate these or not.

For example, one memory I recall is being surprised by a work of Helen Chadwick where she had used a photocopier (or maybe photograms) to create a work called “Of Mutability”.  In this context, this memory pushed me to look at the apparent simplicity of the image making process.  Is it the absence of any depth of field on a scanner that calls the attention to focus?  How is this different to the eye of the camera which records everything and then throws it all back at you?

And what of the camera?  

 

In theory this merely collects light data just as my eye does but my eye reports back to my mind which makes unconscious choices about what I see.  The camera records it all and strangely, when I look at my own images, there are the things that my mind chose not to see.

So I prepare mini animations on my workshop and find that there is much going on in the background that I did not see at the time.

How can I use this?

I had not expected though to be surprised by my own hand.  It has been on the end of my arm for 51 years, it is regularly in my field of vision and to my knowledge I look at it all the time!  And so I am back to my own project, the difference between seeing and knowing and the limits of such knowledge.  If in some perverse moment I ceased to be aware that my hand was attached to me would I recognise it from its appearance?

And as the three dimensionality of my hand meets the thin slice of focus that is the scanner bed what does that reveal to me about how my hand inhabits space?

For a full set of hand images see the gallery

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