I’ll Know It When Eye See It

This show of paintings on canvas and mirror remains at Fox Optical, 28 E. 3rd Street, Bethlehem, until July 28th. Mike has done a beautiful job of hanging the pieces throughout the store, and visitors are welcome not only during “First Friday” events, but whenever the store is open. Closed Sundays and Mondays (http://www.foxoptical.com/)

We are born with eyes, but seeing is learned…. to make two eyes work together, to interpret depth and distance, see color and tone, recognize things we love and things we fear. The result is a miraculous system of pattern detection that allows us to function in the world.

Yes, we say, “I see.” I understand. As if what the eye takes in is the real deal. But of course this is not the case. The miraculous visual system that dominates our attention and awareness is a marvelous trickster. In her campaign to make sense of the world, she throws out details that don’t fit and makes up whatever is missing. She has a kind of autocorrect/autoformat mode that only allows her to report what she already believes to be true and possible.

In this way, she lulls us into a pretty comfortable sense of reality. When confusion or contradiction arise, we sharpen our focus applying telescopic lenses to see further out or microscopic lenses to see further in. This gives lots more pieces to measure and weigh, and we busy ourselves with this mental work, but it’s all in the same direction, all in the service of our self-satisfied rationalism and strong bias toward the concrete and external.

And we carry on like this until one day we are met with some yawning contradiction that the eye can’t take in. We are staring right into the gap between the world we see and know and measure, and the one we’re experiencing. We look to our Eye Witness. She’s turned away.

“What I don’t know is infinite” says a character in Murakami’s novel, Kafka on the Shore.
What I don’t see is infinite. I want to hear the Eye Witness make this confession. I’m painting like crazy lately trying to draw her in, but she’s a tough lady. She insists on that autocorrect stuff and she won’t relinquish her perspectival point of view. But I have my ways; Sometimes, late at night, I sing her to sleep.

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