Looking and seeing

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I’m fascinated by the way people see things. I mean that both in the sense of ocular vision and of cognitive perception.

It’s hard to tell from the photo here but a young woman in the 2nd floor gallery of the Clay Studio (see circle and arrow) stood at the window looking out for the longest time.

Actually looking out is the wrong terminology. She was looking inwardly but staring out the window. What was she thinking?

Here’s a little story about what I was thinking and about how my sister, Cate, was seeing while on our way to meet Libby and Bay at Painted Bride.

We were going to see the Women Holler and the Inliquid photography exhibits at the Bride and as we walked up the little street behind the art center, Cate stopped me and pointed to the building. “Isn’t that great,” she said of the play of reflected light from Isaiah Zagar‘s mirror-crazy mosaic onto the back door of the building.

I asked her if that was a picture because I hadn’t even noticed it and certainly hadn’t seen its photographic possibilities.

Cate, the photographer, said “Sure.”

Since she didn’t have her camera with her, I took a picture with mine.(image above)

Then I asked Cate if she wanted to snap one with my camera. She did.

Here’s what she took. (image below)

The difference is pronounced. What I took is a documentary type shot that includes the building and some sense of space. While it documents the play of light on the door, you understand what you are seeing. Neat-o, but end of story.

Cate’s shot, on the other hand, cropped to what interested her, presents an almost inner vision — something surreal and beautiful that invites a journey into the world of the mind. You don’t need to know the real world framework to get the point of Cate’s shot because the point is to create imaginative workspace. The world is irrelevant.

Cate’s photographs have always taken the viewer on inner journeys. But not all fine art photographers go inside. Some, like Lisa Spera, whose works we saw Saturday at Highwire, focus on the exterior world.

I especially like this one, called “Love” which shows a dog looking out the window of a door. I wonder what he’s thinking.

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