anatomy of an avatar

As far as I can gather, in the context of blogsville, an avatar is a symbol for a site and its scribbler. Symbols speak. They are stand-ins for words. (Words are symbols too, but that’s another story.)

I wanted my avatar to be more than a decorative motif. It had to say something about what my site and my work is concerned with – and hence its scribbler.

I’ve always been interested in the phenomenon of perception and its relationship to the creative life. Our response to anything depends on how we ‘see it,’ and this includes one’s creativity as well as one’s daily life. Habitually we see what we look for – which implies that we knew beforehand what we’d find. In other words, we are looking from our conditioning, out of the past, the known. But there’s another way of seeing: a kind of direct or global seeing. We stumble upon it when – for whatever reason – we are looking with innocence, without agenda, without labeling. I wanted to find an image that would portray these two very different modes of perceiving.

This one met my requirements. It demonstrates the way one’s perception can shift at lightning speed to view two (in this case) possible readings of an image (situation) – neither of which is the right or wrong one. Perception cannot show both images simultaneously. But once they have both been perceived they cannot be denied. The brain changes. Wonderment flows in. This is very good for the creative life.

I also like the way there’s only ONE motif, yet hidden within it are two possible alternative images. One of them shows a large white cube with a black space recessed into the foreground corner. The other shows a black box protruding from a white background. If I think of myself as that black area, I get a neat description of my relationship with the Whole. Most of the time I’m busy strutting ‘my’ stuff, and interconnectedness with the Whole is forgotten. Then, unpredictably and without invitation, Oneness strikes and I’m back in my proper place again, embedded in the Whole, being S P A C E. This is when genuine creativity flows, and I’m awed at the results.

If the perils and pitfalls of perception interest you – particularly if you’re an artist – I highly recommend Art and Illusion by E H Gombrich.

For a fascinating account of how one woman tracked her own processes of perception, look at A Life of One’s Own by Marion Milner.

And if you’d like to download my free e-book believing is seeing hop over to the e-books page. It’s full of puzzles and activities designed to demonstrate the way perception works – a handy resource for both teachers and students.

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