I would like to take a moment to draw a few threads together. Firstly however, I’ll relate a personal experience:
Many years ago a little boy was drawing the most beautiful, elaborate birds. They had wings, eyes, tails, legs, feathers in a range of colours. They were very detailed and considered images that involved the act of looking at birds and recording their features. Then one day the drawings stopped. Instead the boy was drawing an icon of a bird: a big letter ‘M’ for wings with a triangle for a beak. His mother was devastated. What had happened? It turns out someone at school had told him that his (original) birds did not look like birds, and showed him how to draw them the “right” way. It was a tragedy! The bird drawings were reduced to symbols, a means of communicating the concept of a bird rather than rich, creative explorations that involved looking and learning from was observed. I don’t know if she (the mother) ever got that door open again…
I feel very strongly that people – children especially – should be encouraged towards creative exploration. And I think that acknowledging there are many ways of seeing plays a role in this (such as our different points of view when taking the photos that make up our collaborative perspective maps). Another very tangible aspect to this position is the way the brain works, theory which informed our earlier mirror-symmetry drawing exercises. These ideas relate to one-another as follows:
Our full day excursion to walkabout creek involved doing rubbings of found objects, doing tai-chi and studying the wildlife. It also involved a visit to the wildlife centre.
Our excursion also involved going for a walk in the forest. We went part-way along the Aracuria track. Many different things were observed during this walk and we reflected on these and our wildlife centre experiences in our visual diaries.
Some of the animals encountered, things we saw or experienced are shown below. Many more images are on page 2.
(Left) Child working on Perspective Map 1.
This morning we went to the Kedron Brooke area behind the school. Children were tasked with (1) finding bauhinia and quandong trees (2) looking at the water in the creek to see it behave as both a mirror (what does it reflect) and a window, something to look through (what do you see). Lastly they were asked to find and collect symmetrical and interesting things (3). The following is some photographic documentation of this trip.
Some outcomes from this exercise came about that are very relevant to my research into emergence as well as resonating with the concept that seeing is something that is an active process of construction. It came about because the mirror drawings of the leaves were so close that when the mirror images were drawn, they would / could overlap. It was very very interesting to see how the children handled this: some children would shrink one or both drawings so that they could sit side by side. Some rubbed out the area of overlap and when I pointed out the faint pencil marks of overlapping shapes, they said that was a mistake. Some children opted to draw only one of the leaves. A few of them also drew them as overlapping. These overlapping drawings, such as those of the following 2 examples, are of particular interest to me.
Example 1: When I asked this young boy about the area of overlap/ intersection in his drawing he said there was a new leaf there! I then had him explore and work up that new leaf. His added detail includes insect trails eating the leaf as well as veins in the leaf.
Example 2: Another child and I discussed the form of her “new” emergent leaf created from the overlapping areas. She wasn’t interested in drawing and detailing it further, but today I collected a leaf that corresponds in shape and size to her new creation. We discussed it together and matched it to her drawing today. For me, It was fascinating to see these how new forms emerged and this active process of interpretation.
Today I introduced myself to the kids. Even had them laughing at one point. What a lovely bunch.
Introduction: As a way of introducing myself and explaining what interactive art is, I brought in some of my work-in-progress, introducing them to the concept of sensors (photo resistive, aka movement sensors) and how these ‘sense changes in the environment’ which, in turn, changes the art work. I showed them one of my mirror/light boxes: the mirror box becomes a lighted vignette when the sensor senses movement.
This work enabled me to discuss how perception is a constructive process. It set the tone for the following day’s excursion.
Symmetry: We also looked at some Quandong and Bohenia (“Camel’s foot”) leaves, discussing native and exotic flora as well as symmetry in their forms. This was followed by a drawing exercise where they were asked to complete some line drawings. In these drawings only one side of a leaf or seed was drawn. They were asked to complete each image, i.e. to draw the mirror image of the form that is there, its reflection around its axis of symmetry. The results were lovely. Very rich. I encouraged them to develop these symmetry line drawings further by looking at the real leaves and seeds I’d brought in; to find what was not symmetrical, to add details like sun burnt spots or insect trails…This exercise teaches them to pay attention to what they actually see and not simply what they think they see… A random selection of their drawings are shown below.