Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summertime Miscellany: Right Brain/Left Brain

There is a very provocative book I read years ago that I keep thinking of: The Alphabet Versus the Goddess (Viking, 1998), by physicist Leonard Shlain. Basically, it claims that our left brains became more prominent after humankind began to communicate through text, versus the pre-print era when we thought and communicated more visually (via the right brain). In this age of the Internet, we move more towards a balance of the two. Shlain aligns text with linear male thinking and women with more holistic, visual states of mind, a premise that seems too simplistic for me. Yet I am fascinated by the rapid changes in our culture as far as modes of communicating go. We have become very graphics-rich. Everyone is a photographer. Graphic novels are beoming de rigueur. We consume visual content via tv, ipods, film, YouTube, email photo attachments, you name it....

Sitting down to blog this week, I felt less verbally inspired than usual, so I reached for my camera and went out to the yard. Yesterday I snapped the photo of our one lone cucumber growing in the garden, hardly worth the dozens of gallons of water we've poured into it, not to mention compost, mulch, etc. But maybe there will more cukes coming. Sometimes I think the cuke and squash flowers just don't get pollinated correctly since it is always a challenge to succeed with these veggies in hot humid, Houston. Why do we even try? Darned if I know, but that's a different post..... I thought about doing some research on cucumbers and composing a whole post about that, but it felt too forced. So this morning I took a few more photos of things growing in the yard and wanted to be done with it, just post a few photos and move on with my week since I am busy getting ready to hang my art show.

But this notion of visual versus text kept gnawing at me. My brain is leaning more towards the visual these days since I am making so much art. But then again, I also read a lot. I'm not sure I can conceive of a world without text. Artist's Way author Julia Cameron recommends giving up reading for a week or so if you are a blocked artist. I'm not sure I could ever do that! There is much to be said for being fluid between both modes of communication. I love to pour over native American war and pony paint symbols, cave paintings and other pre-text images. Apparently most people picked up paint or sticks to draw before there was text. They took "art" for granted.

Drafting an artist's statement for my forthcoming show, I wrote that I love collage because it serves as an alternate reality where anything is possible. Because it is often multi-layered and complex, collage has the potential to portray the states of paradox, fancifulness and imagination common to the human brain. Only through collage do I feel I am saying things words can't express. We have become very sophisticated in our visual communication, and I do believe that involves some integration of the mind's ability to move back and forth between the brain's hemispheres. We have so many digital tools that allow us to express ourselves. Talking to or everyone (or no one) here in the blogosphere, I am grateful for this mode of communication that blends words and pictures. Peace out!

photos by KAO" Lone Cuke, Chickens a Pecking, Plastic Flamingos "Pete & Petunia", Yard Flowers with Metal Chicken Figurine

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