What I am particularly interested in is the realization that the mind has undergone a shift while looking at art. I have definitely experienced this but have never attempted to analyze and document it.
A little background: The word "gestalt" is a german word for form or shape. It is not just about visual perception, of course. It is also used in psychology, music, science, and many other disciplines as a way to look holistically at something.
Consider then, the vase/face. In order to see it entirely, you must allow your mind to shift. At first, you probably recognize that it is a form made of two contrasting areas. Then you may see the faces first before shifting to the recognition that there are two faces. Then you will undoubtedly shift again and again.
The way in which I "read" this painting is:
- The color areas all seem to be the same size.
- There are several colors (5).
- There are two blue panels and two white ones.
- The arrangement is symmetrical in that it is framed by blue and divided down the middle by black.
- The arrangement is asymmetrical in that the red, yellow and white are not represented equally.
- The painting reminds me of a banner or flag.
- My eye tends to move back and forth horizontally.
- Even though the colors are very vibrant, the painting is fairly soothing. Perhaps because the red and yellow are not adjacent to each other? Perhaps because it is horizontal?
- I find myself grouping by twos, threes, fours, etc. and looking at the seams to see how the colors interact with each other.
- What if the colors were ordered differently?
- Because the blue seems rather dull, the longer I look at this painting the more it takes on a pyramidal or stair step effect.
- I like looking at this painting.
- I like thinking about looking at this painting.
- Is it truly ordered by chance?
A little research revealed the following: "One of a series of eight collages made up of hundreds of squares of color randomly placed on a white or black background,” Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance” was the product of a mathematical system: numbered slips of paper referred each to one of eighteen different hues to be placed on a grid 40 inches by 40 inches. For each one of the eight collages Kelly used a different process, working one color at a time and always unaware of the results." (http://socks-studio.com/)
(To view seven of these collages, click on the one above.)
So, yes, I am intrigued by this process. So I checked out a few more examples wherein art was created with some degree of randomness. (When the Aesthetic Process is Determined by the Flip of a Coin)
Some things, like dripping paint, are less easily controlled, and are therefore more random. But I am not convinced that Kelly's collages were created entirely by chance. It just seems a bit disingenuous, perhaps designed to make the collages more interesting. For example, if I claimed that this collage of Van Gogh was created randomly, it would greatly increase its perceived "value."
I did, by the way, create quite by accident, a pixelated image a couple of years ago when I was photographing a box of stamps.
When this photo is viewed from a distance, it looks like a girl walking down a crowded street, wearing a short red skirt and carrying a shopping bag!
(I posted it small like this so you could see it without having to run across the room...)
Almost without exception, the first thing people say when they see this is, "How did you do that?!?!" From now on I intend to say, "It was arranged by chance."
I will leave you with this to think about: "A great deal of creativity is about pattern recognition, and what you need to discern patterns is tons of data. Your mind collects that data by taking note of random details and anomalies easily seen every day: quirks and changes that, eventually, add up to insights."--Margaret Heffernan