Communicator (communicator) wrote,

Looking and seeing

I've always been fascinated by the idea of being able to see (hear, read whatever) a work of art through the mind of another person. A person with a rich inner life would have a more exciting experience (surely). What if a non-SF fan could experience vicariously what the SF fan is getting out of these opaque texts? What if I could hear what H hears when he listens to the guitar?

Here are two examples which show you what people who don't 'get' art see when they look at paintings. The first I think is just a demonstration of ignorance, but the second is more worrying.

This is a quiz called 'An artist or an ape?'. You are supposed to find it impossible to tell which paintings were created by human abstract impressionists, and which are random daubs by chimpanzees.

But the thing is it's perfectly obvious. The human pictures stand out a mile. It's not even close. Try the quiz - the only reason you won't get 100% is if you try to second guess it - but there are no trick questions or chimp-like human paintings. The only reason a person might think this quiz is difficult is if they simply can't see abstract paintings - I suppose because in some way you have to learn to see them, just as people from cultures which have no pictures haven't learned to understand representational paintings. (PS Here's another one 'Jackson Pollock or bird droppings?'. Once again - you can't fail to get 100%).

But this article is even worse. The guy is complaining about Gustav Klimt, of all people.

If you too enjoy gazing at the naked female form, you don’t have to go to New York to see similar works. You can find them scrawled on the walls of most public rest rooms.

What kind of person can't see the difference between Klimt and a picture scrawled on a toilet wall? Well, he helpfully gives you a window into his mind, because he has drawn a copy of Klimt's most famous work, as it appears to him.

Klimt's 'The Kiss'

What the guy sees when he looks on this painting.

What an insight! That is what he sees - and he doesn't realise that all he is doing is looking into his own empty soul.

(via Pharyngula)
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