A Sense of Perspective?

You would think that the visual arts, and painting in particular, would hold no interest for me, as a person with almost no useful sight. However, art is in many ways more accessible to me than the real visual world, and it certainly makes more sense.

It keeps still, for a start, so I can explore it at my leisure. I can spend as long as I like puzzling about what that red thing in the top corner is, without worrying about everything else wandering off for a coffee.

Nichols Canyon Road, by David Hockney

Nichols Canyon Road, by David Hockney

I have a David Hockney poster by the bed, and I’ve photographed parts of it for this blog. The original is much brighter and so feels hotter, but these milky colours are much more akin to way I see them.

The sense of perspective that Hockney has (or the lack of it, as the traditionalists would put it) is a perfect description of the way I see the world. I cannot distinguish detail and I can’t judge distance and depth.

Hockney’s perspectives are based on his unwillingness to contemplate a vanishing point. In a standard perspective view of a road, for example, the road gets smaller as it gets further away. Eventually, it disappears. The railway tracks converge, the landscape closes in. It is a wonderfully apposite way of seeing the post-Renaissance view of the relationship between the individual and the world. The most important thing in the world is the watcher, the viewer, you. The further away from you things are, the smaller, vaguer and less important they are.

Part of Nichols Canyon Road

Part of Nichols Canyon Road

Hockney, as with his artistic hero, Picasso, wants to change this into a form of vision that expands, that opens up to the periphery. The edges of the painting are as important and as vivid as the centre. There is no depth of field. This is equally true in his photographs. They are snapshots, taken with polaroids and iPads, rather than carefully focussed with unimportant areas out of focus. When I saw his photos of Bridlington at Saltaire Mill in Bradford, he had created a huge landscape of saturated colour by putting many separate views together. It, or they, covered a whole wall.

The result is a world that opens up to your gaze, rather than one that closes down.

This is how I see the world. Close objects are no clearer than far-off objects. I can see the stars, but I can’t see your eyes. The visibility of an object depends on its familiarity and story.

I really feel that the world looks different to each one of us, and that each one of us has a valid story to tell, an important new view to the perspective of us all



About stevehobsonauthor

I am blind, and I hate it. It stinks. But life is still sweet. I have multiple sclerosis, and that stinks too, but life is still sweet. These are my musings.
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