thinking with pictures

“I see” versus “I can’t picture that”

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Visual processing occupies about 20-25% of the human brain. Clearly it is a major source modality for interacting with the spatial and social environment. And, of course, it is a leading place to satisfy one’s urge to find or to express beauty. So we commonly say (in English, at least) “I see” or “I can see what you are saying” or “I don’t see things eye to eye with you.”

image of human angle of view

human eyes’ angle of view

In the course of learning something new, normally we accumulate several pieces of a puzzle before we grasp the overall shape of an argument or comprehend the meaning of something. In other words knowledge is built from accumulated information and small distinctions and data points. Contrast this with the photography sequence: either you stumble upon an eye-catching scene (reactive or receptive to conditions; sense of recognition) or a play of light; or you go forth with premeditation to stalk beauty in places you have known or suspect will yield good results (event, context of action, landscape and time of season or time of day). In other words, in the photographic mind “I see” appears fully formed, not an incremental series of pieces that come together to form an “a-ha” realization of the whole meaning.
So the figure of speech “I see” is the culmination of growing knowledge and the resulting final awareness. But the photographic experience is to see the whole scene appear fully formed, to recognize the significance of the composition as viewed, or with artful work to adjust one’s position and focal length to faithfully capture something faithful to the scene’s character and expressive of the image stirred in one’s mind.
We pass through our day and when the light is right or the elements of a mental composition are in conjunction, then we pull our camera from its resting place and capture the scene in the moment. Truly we can say “I see” at the release of the shutter.


Author: gpwitteveen

Better Outreach is my aim. See to know more.

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