A Painting from the East - or is it? A Case of Pareidolia

A Painting from the East 1, 2100 x 1170mm Signed Limited Edition of 5.

A Painting from the East 1, 2100 x 1170mm Signed Limited Edition of 5.

I love discovering new works, trying to make sense of them and how they speak to me as I create and name them. In the process, I try constantly to find ways of describing the thinking behind my creative work concisely. I recently finished reading Reductionism in Art and Brain Science – Bridging the Two Cultures by the 2000 Nobel Prize Winner in Physiology or Medicine, Eric Kandel.  The book is a superb short easy read on the emergence of abstract art in the 20th century and its connection with the field of psychology, a relatively recent scientific development. 

Kandel writes
“…The brain specializes in extracting meaningful patterns from the input it receives, even when that input is extremely noisy. This psychological phenomenon is referred to as pareidolia, in which a vague, random stimulus is perceived as significant.”

This is not a recent observation. In 15th Century, Leonardo Da Vinci wrote of this capability in his notebooks:
:…If you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills. You will also be able to see diverse combats and figures in quick movement, and strange expressions of faces, and outlandish costumes, and an infinite number of things which you can then reduce into separate and well-conceived forms….”

Kandel's writing has given me a way of explaining my creative process and why it evokes such a hugely diverse range of perceptions from my viewers. Perception creates pareidolia in the viewer by asking the profound question: “How do you impose order on randomness?"

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