I shut my eyes in order to see.
– Paul Gauguin –
In describing Leonardo da Vinci’s fascination with water and fluids, the science writer Phillip Ball describes how seeing interfered with Leonardo’s perspective. In his book Flow, Ball explains that Leonardo ‘had to sit and stare for hours: not to see things more sharply, but, as it were, to stop seeing …’
In my own art[making] I have noticed that my best drawings are those that have originated in blindness. I am not visually impaired in any way, but in either closing my eyes or blindfolding myself I have produced what I regard to be my most honest work. In some strange way seeing interferes with my feeling of authenticity.
Seeing restricts me.
Over time I have become increasingly interested in ways in which my body either traces or translates sensory input. When [not]seeing is in response to sounds, thoughts or imagination there is little doubt that I experience enhanced fluidity of gestural motion. I would like to think that I am what the writer-artist Siri Hustvedt terms as an embodied creative see-er.
Whilst in the process of performing embodied seeing, my focus naturally navigates towards tracing my body’s inner, rhythmic patterning to the sensory input I am receiving. To obtain a deeper sense of my own corporeality I typically close my eyes. Mostly, the visual output of [not]seeing evokes deep validity for me.
Why is it that I need to shut my eyes in order to see? As a visual person, should seeing not be evoking the opposite reaction? Why does seeing create doubt? How important is perspective in seeing? In Living, Thinking, Looking Hustvedt is of the opinion that the loss of perspective is a desirable state:
Losing perspective is an intellectual virtue because it requires mourning, confusion, re-orientation, and new thoughts.
A willingness to lose perspective means an openness to others who are guided by a set of unfamiliar propositions.
To lose perspective by [not]seeing is, as Ball says of Leonardo ‘…to transcend the limitations of [the] eyes.’ Recently seeing The Refusal of Time – Kentridge’s collaboration with Phillip Miller, CatherineMeyburgh, PeterGalison & DadaMasilo -at the IZIKO South African Gallery in Cape Town, I experienced such a transcendence of visual limitations. Here, seeing meant [not]seeing, as a torrent of multiple sensory inputs flooded my body.
I literally closed my eyes in order to see, thereby gaining confusion, re-orientation and new thoughts (which I traced).