Reason for Imperfect reason

Stephen Hornsby-Smith


Advances in recent studies in neurobiology have provided us with a new neuroscientific analysis of the image of the Painter and the Painting. Creativity cannot be quantified but as this information has come to light, greater access to one's artistic potential as well as discovering greater artistic potential in all of us is mind blowing. Centrally, he/she does not see with their eyes but with their brain which then trains itself to code and decode images the mind 'sees'. Furthermore, the mind could be operating on multi-parallel levels visually too.This scientifically resolves one of Painter's most universal conundrums - not just about immediate causality of the artist's vision but the potential recognition of why certain people are temporamentally deficient yet unusually able to convert images to the brain; or vice versa. Neuroscience had engaged issues about the retina and the visual cortex that showed that we could be trained beyond mere technique to grasp artistic 'vision', or without technical training. The impact of this information could be misappropriated, yet unlikely.

It was Picasso and Braque that Semir Zeki related the juncture between science and Art, specifically Cubism. He showed that these artists wanted to remove the immediate layer of initial 'sight', and wanted to retrain the perceived objects to exist beyond the obvious, and to embrace the 3 dimensionality of 'seeing'. They advanced the case of scientific accuracy of the mechanics of 'seeing' whilst generating a completely new field of mind expansion that also gave birth to a new artistic direction. A new view of the Painter was that he/she could multi-task in artistic creativity that was unprecedented.(in my practice today I am trying to reverse that process).

There were huge political, philosophical, ontological as well as artistic ramifications too.With a massive expansion of creative possibility one could envisage being able to transcend much of the failings of being too dependent on occidental philosophyand the need to be stranded between yearnings for structure,resolution diagnosis/prognosis, and post structural fragmentation and its consequences that have rendered universal 'truths' devalued, contradicted and undermined. It is thus to neuroscience that we must return. This reevaluates the non-definitive and failed 'dogma' and values the graduation of reason made imperfect to extend human knowledge and to rediscover the potential worm-hole between us today and a potential quantum leap in our metaphorical eyes. Thiscertainly is trailblazed by newly acquired knowledge of the human brain and the way it operates our sight. Perhaps God has tried very hard to "remain anonymous"(Einstein) but has he succeeded? Certainly neurobiology has advanced the visual paradigm and elevated the Painter and in particular, his/her ability to 'see' in an unprecedented way. How inspiring is it for a Painter whose medium has been so maligned and rendered recently 'unfashionable'?