Monday 26 June 2023

It leaves the whole world blind.

Ok, so.
I very recently found out that I don't have a visual imagination.
No wait, let me rephrase that.
I very recently found out that almost everybody else is able to 'picture' things. I've always kind of known that my imagination is essentially blind, I just never thought that this was a rare occurrence. That idea seems so absurd to me that I feel uncomfortable writing that it is somehow possible for other people to close their eyes and 'see' an image.

This doesn't mean that I don't remember things I saw, or that I have no imagination whatsoever. It's just that when I imagine or recall things, I simply don't see any images.
When I do imagine things, I do so in terms of causal relationships, spatial relationships, abstract qualities and perhaps most importantly, movement and proprioception. But from what I understand other people just kind of see shapes and such.

I don't feel this has hampered me in any way in my life, but it does help to explain why I do certain things the way I do, or perhaps why most people don't.
This is especially true for my own understanding of art. I've often jokingly said that it's easy to understand my views on art and that all you have to do is forget everything you think you know about art. But I never understood just how true that was.
Because unlike most people, it's quite literally impossible for me to have a superficial understanding of an artwork. When I think about an artwork, I truly can't imagine what it looks like. The only things I can think about are how it's made, its context, some characteristics of details and so forth, anything 'below the surface'. Whichever understanding I could have about an artwork can only come from meticiously noting every single aspect of an artwork that doesn't involve its appearance.
Consequently, in order to make any sense of art at all, I had to develop a cohesive theory of art that necessarily precludes images. While for nearly everybody else in the world, the image, the visual, is the central part of art. It's even exactly the aspect that seperated the 'visual' arts from all the others. As I'm only able to reason about art without those visuals, if my thoughts about art are comprehensible,  then the visual aspect axiomatically, and perhaps paradoxically, can't be a significant part of art.
Thus, while I was joking when said you have to forget everything you think you know about art, it's exactly what most people will need to do. To be able to see what I see, so to speak, you have to develop an understanding of how it's possible to have informed thoughts and arguments about art without knowing what it looks like. While for me this is the only available option, I don't think it is an easy task for most people.