Saturday, 15 March 2008

Seeing Well

"Be as interested in as many things as possible (because that still won't be enough to satiate your need for 'connection' to create good art). Fill your day and your mind and your surroundings with curiosity - ask questions of everybody and about a 'limitless' person to others - don't hide your ignorance, for this is simply the unlit side of curiosity and the outside door to wisdom and knowledge". Hans Rookmaaker.

It's something photography has taught me so well - how little I really see and how much I really miss.
We all know that by using light, our eyes take information from the world around us to allow us to perceive and engage with what we then deem to be the 'real' world, but the reality is that we are often pretty lax, even careless about how we employ and use this wonder that we actually miss a great deal. Our ignorance begins very close to home - concerning the eye itself.

Recent research has revealed that far from being just a 'lens' to see through, the retina is in fact an external piece of brain tissue which has more computational ability than today's most sophisticated super computers! This capability allows the eye to complete intelligent, highly constructive processes regarding the world well before the information is passed through into the brain itself for further processing.

Every morning when we wake, most of us have the ability to employ this tool as our first means of exploring the world with questions, but we tend to switch to 'safe' mode, eat our toast as we listen to the weather report, and generally live life the same way we did yesterday.
The reality, however, is that life is never that two dimensional. There is far more going on if we are prepared to 'lift the rug' and take a closer look - if we move beyond our usual comfort zones.

Art can move us because it seeks to do just that - it seeks to paint on a broad canvas (thereby causing us to quickly take notice) words and images that seek to express something 'larger' about the reality of our being here, and such questions, thoughts and impressions resonate with each of us because we know we were designed to 'see' at such a level.

As a Christian, I believe there is a similarity between the power of our eyes to connect us to reality and the gift of faith. Faith can so often be seen as something passive - a statement on a page that we assent to in some dusty corner of our thoughts - but real faith disturbs and provokes us, inspires and challenges us, keeps us awake at all hours as we ponder some wonder. Faith is not afraid to 'dance in the rain', explore the tiniest atomic particle or stand bare before the glory of a sunset, for in all of this and much more, it can indeed 'see' a greater wisdom.

As Easter draws near, we need to re-discover both the world around us, and the 'deeper' world which whispers through what we observe.

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