The Aphantasia Artist- creating with no visual imagination.

Shal's Blog, Uncategorized

 

Aphantasia is the suggested name for a condition where one does not possess a functioning mind’s eye and cannot visualize imagery.[1] The phenomenon was first described by Francis Galton in 1880,[2] but has remained largely unstudied since. Interest in the phenomenon renewed after the publication of a study conducted by a team led by Prof. Adam Zeman of the University of Exeter,[3] which also coined the term aphantasia.[4] Research on the subject is still scarce, but further studies are planned.

So until last year I knew nothing about this, and when I say I knew nothing I mean never hear of it, didn’t know it was even a thing and never realised people saw images in their mind…………..well my mind got well and truly blown. How the heck could I be an artist and not have the slightest clue. All those terms and expressions mean all the same thing to me as anyone else, you know the ones, paint a image in your mind, can you imagine that, i cant un see that, oh can see their face now. I discovered at the grand old age of 47 that I had a blind mind eye. I discovered this after going through some brain working recursive therapy for muscle tension dysphona and found I got frustrated when the therapist kept asking what I saw in relation to certain questions.

So I within a couple of weeks I discovered Aphantasia, it had a title and I began to understand what it was all about………and then i felt totally robbed. People see things in their mind…….while there awake? WTF? How?

Now I do dream when I sleep, I can only think that its a different part of the brain that preforms that function. But if you ask me to imagine a blue gorilla with a pink banana walking down the high street………nothing, not a thing, nada. But it then got me thinking what other things will this effect. Well I wont suffer from PTSD flash backs. I don’t relive that horror film that made everyone squirm. I can’t describe someones face, because I can’t re see it, I don’t remember directions, I tend to mentally remind myself what shops I have been past. I can watch the same film or read the same book a few months later and don’t remember the plot. When reading I don’t like descriptive text because I can’t imagine it. But that thing people tell you when going to a job interview, to imagine everyone naked, yeah kind of glad i can’t do that one; and one person via a post went I feel for you, you don’t have a wank bank………😮😮😮😮😮😮. I don’t want to know.

I can’t have a memory palace, my spelling is terrible as I can’t visualise the word to work it out. Unless I look at photos I don’t always recall memories that most people can and would. But I am not sad, I have never known any different, and as for that gorilla and everything else I can think about it as much as you like, I can remember it forever if I commit it to memory but alas never ever see it.

So fast forward to now, I always knew I was wired up different to everyone else, I didn’t know why but just knew. See I have always been into the art and always struggled to get ideas and concepts on to paper but creating something out of a pile of nothing placed in front of me was a piece of cake. So even though i don’t see things in my mind doesn’t mean I can’t be creative. If anything I think it actually helps, I can come up with concepts and idea and even though I can not get it on to paper I just make them straight off the bat.

And I am happy to stay that way……….beside I i started seeing things now I would think I was hallucinating 😁

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2 thoughts on “The Aphantasia Artist- creating with no visual imagination.

  1. I am a graphic designer/technical illustrator and compete in flower arranging, aged 61. I just came to the realization people can see images in their heads. I am gob struck with this. Wow! I have talked to people with photogenic memories and always thought this was a superpower. Now I am buzzing with how this may have affected my life.

    I have always hated been called an artist as I have no vision. Without a starting point I have nothing. The starting point can come from rearranging trash until it confirms to basic design guidelines or from plagiarizing something someone else has done and twisting/refining/adding to it until it becomes my own. My designs come from patience and research. I am always surprised at what I do, because I had no way of seeing it coming.

    When I finish a project, I keep it in my visual range for at least a few days, as I know when it is out of my sight, it quickly ceases to exist.

    Thanks for your blog Shal.

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    1. Hello Greg, it’s a rare condition but there are lots of us out there. I run a Facebook page for people with Aphantasia who are artist, creatives, or just appreciate art called The Aphantasia Artist. ( art group for image blind creators). If your part of the Facebook Community come and join us and talk to other artists who have Aphantasia, share art and discuss how other get around creating art when they can’t imagine. And thanks for reading my blog.

      Like

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