Twice Seen

Man and Child, photograph

“In the words of a Native American holy man, to see profoundly means ‘to look at the world twice,’ minutely as well as dimly, in order ‘to see all that there is to see’.”

Eugenia Parry – in an essay introduction to “Bill Jacobson Photographs”

One of the things I love most about visual art is the way in which it allows us, and sometimes forces us, to see the world differently.

Imagine for a moment a world without any visual arts. The only things to see… would be the things themselves. While it’s hard to even imagine, I believe that there would be far less dimension to our world. Our surroundings would feel a little more like a Hollywood set. We would lack the ability to see “all that there is to see”.

Much of my photographic work involves images seen less minutely and more dimly. They might feel a bit like the dream state, or that interval when awakening emerges from our dreams. Just as we perform important work on many of our conscious thoughts while dreaming, we can expand the range of our vision of the world by viewing it in a manner less minute. Then we will look twice, and maybe more than twice, to see what is revealed when the particulars are absent.

Please do keep looking. You will continue to find more.

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3 responses to “Twice Seen

  1. I find particularly engaging images that yield “more” to the eye the more often we look at them. Coming upon an image the first time, I think I take it in broadly, expansively, sweeping my eye; although sometimes, just the opposite occurs, and I’m drawn in by some particular detail that rivets the eye, causing me to have to step back to view it whole. Either way, I have to look again, and maybe a third and fourth time, and still I wonder if I see all the image can show. I find this to be so whether with paintings or photographs.

    No visual arts? I think our minds would have to be wired quite differently. I read words and “see” images; I listen to music and “hear” what otherwise might be a visual representation. The mind’s ability to conjure what is not visible and our need to put our mind, so to speak, to paper or musical notes, or what have you, are fascinating.

  2. I think it is this forced change of vision that also causes people to react emotionally to some images. Sadly, for many people, they refuse to see past what isn’t there and allow their vision to change. It’s almost like there’s a resentment for trying to make them interpret what is (or isn’t) there. They want their lives and art to be like that Hollywood set….and the dreamlike state just plain scares them. But for me, it’s this exact place where life finally begins to make sense.

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