The Beholder’s Share

SciArt Center Art Residency Program Week 11 – originally published on 11/23/18

Over the past several months, I have been listening to a lot of art-related podcasts.   Currently, my favorite one is “Your Creative Push”.  In the process of listening to interviews of multiple artists, certain elements appear again and again.  These include:

  1. The necessity to do something creative everyday to retain momentum.
  2. Going all in and then stepping back to let the art “breathe” a little before revisiting it with fresh eyes.
  3. Changing your scenery to come back with fresh thoughts and ideas.

In several of her posts, Darcy wrote about the importance of “beholder’s share” in viewing art.  While from a creative perspective, the concept sounds very poetic, a similar approach in science would have been called “bias” and would carry a much more negative connotation.  But as much as we would like to remain objective in recording our scientific observations, we know that we are all guilty of it.  When you are using data to construct a cohesive scientific model, it is akin to assembling a puzzle – you do your best to make the pieces fit together.  This means that rather than trying to fit a “square peg in a round hole”, you begin your search with an assumption that you know what you are looking for to complete the missing pieces. 

So how does this relate to art?  Do we go out into the world with the full intentions of openly observing our surroundings or are we consciously or subconsciously looking for a particular puzzle piece that is missing in our current work?  I believe that the latter version is probably more prominent than we would like to admit.  We perceive the world through the prism of looking for a solution for our current challenge (in both art and science).

Last week, I wrote about the inspiration I drew from Theordore Rousseau’s painting “The Forest in the Winter at Sunset”, which I wanted to combine with a jewel of hope.  This week I happened to go to the Brooklyn Museum, where I saw the following 2 paintings.  What in the world do they have to do with my work?  Well, I was mesmerized by minuscule scale of a single person juxtaposed against the vastness of each of these landscapes.

forest_in_the_winter
“The Forest in the Winter at Sunset” by Theodore Rousseau
tropical_scenery
“Tropical Scenery” by Frederic Edwin Church
a_view_of_the_two_lakes
“A View of the Two Lakes and Mountain House, Catskill Mountains, Morning” by Thomas Cole

The same feeling came from observing the work of Richard Gaston, who photographs people as tiny speckles against the grandiose backdrop of nature.  This is how I wanted to position the white jewel of hope mentioned in my previous post against the background of the intertwined neurons. 

richard gaston
“Photo by Richard Gaston (Instagram)”

Over the last several days, I was finally able to start working on the first layer of blue neurons from Darcy’s image.  I am continuing the prop up all of the cells and now adding long processes to connect them to each other and eventually create a dense network. 

work in progess
Work in progress

And I am just beginning to play around with the question of where the white jewel should go…

playing with composition
Playing with composition

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