Friday, January 4, 2008

Musings on the Subconscious in Art

I remember, a long time ago when I was taking a Creative Writing poetry class in college, a shocking moment: somebody--quite innocently--pointed out something my poem was saying that I hadn't known about. I forget the exact words, but the gist of it was that one way the poem could be read, seemed to refer to a certain kind of situation. And indeed, that very unpleasant situation -had- happened to me, but I certainly had never intended to make it "public"!

The subconscious really can sneak things through on you. And as much control as you'd like to think you have over your creations--be they words, or pixels--you can't prevent the reader or viewer from interpreting the work, and sometimes their interpretation might surprise you by its truth.

Somebody (Mary Ann, from 2Peas) did this to me just the other day, by remarking on how the vines and the water images in the layout below really supported my journaling:

Fonts: The Blue Cabin & BD Oxford. "The Cape" color palette by "High 5" on Vine is clip art from Dover. Journaling reads: "What a wonderful little boy you are... full of smiles-most of the time-and joy and interests... just a perfect addition to the family. The younger years have now passed. With reading and writing come more weighty concerns, and we're definitely in the "Why?" stage instead of the "What is... ?" stage. This is the time to try out defiance and opposition, to test limits, to see for yourself what rules really are, and how flexible they are. This is the time when we can really start to communicate concepts, when we can begin to make nuances in our requests or explanations, and know that you'll understand. This is the time for experimentation no longer on physics, but on sociology. It's... an interesting time, but one in which we have some small nostalgia for simplicity."

Allen growing like a vine, time passing like water, memories rippling to the surface like sand... all these are elements that work along with the content--but it was entirely subconscious. First of all, I started with the background, then found some pictures, and as I added them, I started thinking about his growing up, and then I did the journaling, then I found the vine, and it tied things together perfectly--from an aesthetic point of view. I wasn't even thinking about subtext!

I also notice these synchronicities from a purely artistic point of view: once I've finished something, I'll see that all the elements point to the focal point, for example, despite me not being conscious of that fact at the time. I often move things around until they feel "right"--but it's not until I'm done that I'll understand why something feels right.

I'm not talking about anything earth-shattering here, but just little things, for example how the clouds and the horizon line point to Allen's eyes and face:

(Click on image for credits)

or here, where the two half-circles tie the main image together with the smaller ones by creating an intersection kind of in the middle:

(Click on image for credits)

Such a cool thing, the brain, eh?

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