A couple of months ago I did not know anything about it. Things sometimes come slowly. This time for a reason.
It is not a muscle as you know it from your arms and your tights and your fingers. It is more like a network of capacity that connects different parts of your brain to perform a task. That task could be to register and recognize and evaluate a visual expression, as you find it in a photograph.
This network acts much like a muscle. When you neglect it, it dies away. When you activate it, it starts to work for you. On its own.
You talk about being able to do fast and frugals (See page *). To run on autopilot (See page *). These rely on your visual muscle functioning and being properly trained.
Put it to use, train it, it gets stronger and more reliable. Quite literally you get better at whatever it is you are doing.
If you have but little beforehand, you get something. If you already are well equipped, you get stronger. No matter what activity and process you want to improve. Could be looking at a photograph. Could be even browsing reality itself.
Confronted with a picture there is a chain of actions that is triggered. First the registration of the object (if it is an object), in the retina. Then the signalling to an area at the back of your brain, to pick up the raw data. Then tiny arms reach out to other areas and bring in the full capacity of both you body and brain to get a grip of what the photograph is all about. Perceiving a photograph is a tall order even if it seems so easy.
Did you, by the way, know that the far larger part of you perception of any visual is based on your unconsciousness? Some say 95 percent. Did you also know that about 30 percent of your total brain capacity has been set aside to handle visual stimuli? Not touching, smelling, hearing or tasting. But seeing.
The conscious part of your perception and the unconscious part of it work in tandem. They support each other to make out the whole picture. It is a combination of below the line and above the line perception. With below the line as the locomotive.
That aside. What you need to take away from this knowledge is this: First, be aware that you rely on your unconsciousness to a much larger extent than you could have imagined. Second, as your unconsciousness draws on the whole battery of acquired knowledge, experience and training you will always perceive what you see a little differently from others. Sometimes very differently.
Third, and maybe the most important is you can train your visual muscle to work for you. Even if you are hard wired to a certain disposition, such a hard wiring can be modified.
This will not happen over a weekend even if you set your mind to it. More likely over a lifetime.
Copenhagen, August 20, 2014.
© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved