Friday, December 11, 2009

A little perspective here

A few years ago I noticed a picture across a contemporary art gallery on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles and was drawn to it.

At first glance it resembled Hokusai's "Great Wave off Kanagawa," but when I got close I saw the sea-foam bunnies and laughed. This scary mountain of water was transformed into "Uprisings," a witty and wonderful digital work by the two artists known as Kozyndan. (this work is copyrighted, see for more info)

I had to own it, and now the framed print hangs on my living room wall where visitors are drawn to it and either giggle like me or gasp and say something about poor bunnies.

Both the artwork and the reactions relate to our personal perspectives.

I have mentioned in previous posts that I adore and need the sea but also fear it. So for me, I think this work turns fear to whimsy and fun. But other people may be disturbed to think the bunnies are being pummeled.

My last post about signs, portents and mysteries elicited a number of interesting comments, including this from Lisa Dez: Perception is truth.

Lisa got me thinking about the link between perspective and perception, something that is integral to human beings and necessary to artists and writers. Perspective certainly is truth at a given moment in each person's eyes. But it can be different in another's eyes or altered by circumstances.

Dictionary descriptions also show shifts in defining perspective: To look through. To see clearly. Relating to. Capacity to view things in relative importance. Sense of proportion, of depth. View of relative distance and position. Overview. Vista. Outlook. Prospect. Viewpoint.

This leads me to ponder that an author's viewpoint will always come through but he/she must be sure that each character has a unique perspective and perception of the world, as well.

Here is a painting that alters perception. When I first saw this work, "Petra," by Katrin Wiese, I was reminded of the portraits by Renaissance painters--not because of her style which is expressionistic and contemporary--but the setting of a girl in front of a landscape is much like those of Bellini or Botticelli or even DaVinci. Remember "Mona Lisa?" She is posed, hands in front of her, landscape behind.

But like "Uprisings," my perspective and perception was jogged by what was in the landscape.

It's dystopic, apocalyptic. This young girl isn't in front of her family home or bucolic meadow. Her backdrop is chaos and destruction, but she has a serenity about her.

Some of you may wonder why I purchased a painting of such dark undertones. Because, once again, I find it thought-provoking and witty--a comment on our times.

This painting also has an entirely different perspective built into it. Wiese continued the artwork on the sides of its wood construction.

So if you view it from an angle, you get this added perspective.

And I can add one more variable: how we illuminate or choose to highlight things. I shot the two photos of this painting on different days in ambient light. One created sepia tones and the other is more brilliant as the original work is.

I have carried on here about our perceptions (which I think is awareness and comprehension based on experience including perspective). Don't know if I've made sense to you but it was interesting to me to explore this a bit.

Addendum: I realize another element that plays with perspective/perception in these artworks is that things are not as we expect them to be; there is surprise, shock. Good to remember as writers, as well.


Liza said...

My daughter is learning about perception in psychology class...your post is a reminder how we see things differently. Tricia, there's a little prize for you on my blog today.

CKHB said...

I *love* the great wave of bunnies.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Wow! I never would have caught those bunnies- I'm glad you pointed them out. I love art with hidden layers to it- there's a whole lot I would play with in Psychology class.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Liza: It's a good lesson for all of us. And thanks for the award!

Carrie: *grins*

Stephanie: I think the best art has layers. It's lovely to see pretty pictures but it is more interesting to see something beyond that, something that gives you fresh viewpoint.

BK Mattingly said...

I saw the bunnies in one of my art classes but I couldn't remember who they were done by, thanks for the info!

PJ Hoover said...

Perspective is so important. It's always so great to remind ourselves to take more than one look at things. To come up with a second opinion. And a third.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Bethany: That sounds like a cool art class!

PJ: Good advice. Looking through someone else's eyes is something I try--in my imagination, of course!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Another day, another wonderful lesson, another satisfied customer. The things you come up with each day make me feel like my mind is growing! ;-)

Robyn Campbell said...

Tricia! You get better and better. It's kinda like that hair color commercial. :) Only you're MUCH better than hair color my friend.

I love looking at things through your eyes. Your eyes help my eyes to see so much more. :)

Oh and I told the hubby,"Either get me a phone like Tricia has or get me another horse." Well, he's decided that a phone won't eat as much. :)

Davin Malasarn said...

"This leads me to ponder that an author's viewpoint will always come through but he/she must be sure that each character has a unique perspective and perception of the world, as well."

I think this is one of the biggest challenges as a writer. We have to somehow escape our own minds to create new ones, and that thought often feels quite impossible to me.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Shannon: Oh I like to hear that. I think blogging helps me keep my mind from shrinking. ;)

Robyn: I confess. I have never been compared to hair color before--blond, red or brunette? And I am glad to lend you my eyes anytime. :D

Davin: It often feels impossible to me, too. Some characters do seem to think for themselves, but even then I have to watch that my big mouth doesn't get involved.

Bish Denham said...

Love the bunny wave! When I went to the web-site and got a close-up view of it, I saw all the bunnies are smiling. So I say they are having a good time!

Our perceptions/perspectives are infinite in variety. No two people can perceive the same thing the same way because everyone's perspective is different. They are (perceptions/perspectives) and we are, like snowflakes. I love that about life and humanity.

J.B. Chicoine said...

I like the correlations you draw between the two concepts.
I think that we who are tuned into the visual arts view the world with a peculiar perspective. While we often pick up on details that others might not, we are ever so conscious of the capricious nature of any given view (or viewpoint). Changing light, as you so aptly point out, can transform and object entirely. It’s an interesting application for writing different characters interpretation of the same event.

V. S said...

I love art work, especially from the Victorian age.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Bish: Smiling bunnies. It's a happy day.
I love the snowflake comparison to our varied perspectives. Perfect.

BJ: That's a great observation: "we are ever so conscious of the capricious nature of any given view."

Victoria: Art brightens my life. It is something human beings have made since the dawn of time, so I think it is part of what makes us human.

Donna said...

Thanks for the window on perception. We do need to keep this in mind in our writing, for different readers will key in on different levels of the same story.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Very cool images and perspectives. I love when things aren't always as they seem.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Donna: My pleasure. Thanks for reading.

Sherrie: I agree it's more intriguing when they aren't what they seem. Thanks!

Sarah Laurence said...

Interesting post connecting art and writing through perspective. I also noticed that the canvas appears to be like a tombstone. I enjoyed the seashell mystery in the post below too. So nice to connect with you through Barrie!

Natalie said...

I think that is one of our main jobs as writers--to make things not as people would expect them to be. I'm not too good at this yet. I need to work on making things less predictable and more interesting.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Sarah: Welcome, and yay for the Barrie link. Thanks for the added perspective of the tombstone shape. I hadn't seen it that way, instead I was thinking of the arched religious paintings. Either notion is worth pondering.

Natalie: There is so much to remember, isn't there? Sometimes I think my head will burst with all the stuff I try to wrangle as I write.

* said...

The bunnies are amazing. I have always been drawn to art and writing that has multiple levels of meaning.

I also enjoy the dawning sense of "Oh!" when at last, clarity hits.

Thought provoking post!

Tabitha Bird said...

I love the bunnies paintings and like you, I am drawn to art that alters my perspective in some way or makes me think.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Terresa: Yes, I love the ah-ha moment, too. It's such a pleasure.

Tabitha: Me, too. It's not that I don't appreciate lovely art but it has to make me think or it is just decorative.

MG Higgins said...

I am completely mesmerized by "Petra." Those bags under her eyes and her frown. And is she fingering rosary beads? It's like she's overwhelmed from having seen too much. Serene from exhaustion. So there's my perception!

Love the bunny wave.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Mel: I think you are the first to mention Petra. I love her. Yes, I thought they might be rosary beads, and her hands are somewhat tense, so I think it is that kind of serenity born of survival.