The Aphantasia Artist- creating with no visual imagination.

 

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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Obfuscation, Curiosity and Up Cycled art

cross stitched metal
obfuscation
ɒbfʌsˈkeɪʃ(ə)n/
noun
  1. the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible.
  2. “when confronted with sharp questions they resort to obfuscation

So why on earth would I want to make art that is unclear or unintelligible………..well I do and I don’t.  I do because I want to get people talking about an art piece, well that is the point isn’t it?  But I aim more for the obscure part of that word …….Obfuscation.

koi cross fish
  Currently work in progress, Koi fish cross stitched into a cymbal

I have always had a fascination with weird and wonderful items.  When I was a kid, you know pre computers and pre internet and with the dinosaurs still wondering around, when the whole world was just outside your door and you only knew what was going on else where when you looked at the news or went to the library, I found it very hard to find things that grabbed my attention but when I did find a little curio or strange little wonderment I would grab it with both hands and never let go, but now with all the technology we have I can find all these weird and wonderful items to see right in your hand.  But I now find that kind of removes the wonderment for me.  Don’t get me wrong I would not have it any other way now, I want that access, but I am kind of starting to see the same curios, weird things that I have seen before and nothing seems new.  This aspect makes me sad but does drives my art work as well.  A few years ago when I went back to college I begin to play about with these kinds of idea, creating new obscurities from ideas that people would not think of and since discovering that I have Aphnatasia It has made me realise this influences my art work even more.

IMG_2241 (1)

I love the concept of smashing two juxtaposing items together.  I had already been playing about with book sculptures / carvings   but it was time to start progressing. This was one of my first attempts  Musical Blooms

Mr x stitch featured it on his Instagram page last year and it blew me away how many likes I got for it. https://www.instagram.com/mrxstitch/?hl=en

So this one got me wondering what else I could do and I began looking into to other artists to see if other people were doing the kinds of art I love doing. But the other question is would people buy this kind of art from me.  See every one in a normal two up two down do not have much space so will aim for art works that do not take up too much space. You know sits flat against the wall.  But then I found artists like:

severija incirauskaite-kriauneviciene

Dustin Yellin

Joseph Cornell

So then it made me think well sod it, obfuscation, curiosities, weird item, strange, wonderful and unusual art works are what get my creative juices flowing.  But it brings me back to the unclear and unintelligible bit.  Its been a debate that has gone on between me and a few of my tutors.  Does art have to mean anything, does it have to be clear, does it need to be intelligible? ……..Well that’s a can of worms right there.  Personally I don’t think it does.  For me art is something that makes you wonder, makes you look, makes you think and talk about it, the art piece is what ever the view thinks it is. But the establishment also says that art is for those purposes as well, but there must be a meaning behind the pieces created.  If I want to get to the heights of  the greats then my art needs to have a meaning of why it was created.  Which I understand if you have a chicken with two shoes tied to a frying pan.

cog and sequine skull  Cog and sequine skull which now lives with Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
sam portrait Tennis Racket Wool Portrait

But I want my art to just be, is there a right or wrong, to be a successful artist do you have to follow those ridged rule to get to the heights that we all dream of sometimes.  Can’t art just be about you look at it you loved it so you wanted to own it.    Well I will leave that conversation for another blog maybe.

In the mean time I will take my lack of visual imagination and carry on smashing ideas together and enjoy myself making weird and wonderful things.

To see more of the kinds of art I produce please visit me at http://www.shalmines.com

Unusual Cross Stitch and the Plastic Tattoo.

So I went back to college quite late in life, well there is late and then very late, lets just say before 50.  I never did well at school and I am not academically minded at all so I really hated artist research.  Over the years I have began to enjoy it and I have been inspired by an artist called  Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene who cross stitches into solid object, car bonnets, frying pan, helmets you name it she seems to do it.  She seems to use mostly metal items to create her work.  This process fascinated me.  Now as a working artist and working with obsolete items that damaged or stuff just thrown away I wanted to see if I could apply this idea to something that isn’t metal, something fragile, something that seemed impossible to do.

Now also as an artist I am very aware of coming across as copying someone else’s idea or work.  Me personally,  if someone asks me how I did something I will tell them and even encourage them to have a go.   I mean why not.  I have contacted various artist, become friends with some of them and asked how they produce their work, how did they get over hurdles, work out problems and 99% of the time I will always check to see if they mind me asking.  So far no problem till the other day when I posted a comment on a known book artists Instagram ( they shall remain nameless) asking how they managed to  stop there pages going floppy;  it was a very innocent question, but with the wonders of text and no emotions being shown because that’s how cold text is, dam you text, they decided to answer me after two weeks by telling me to go be original find your own media and stop copying their work!!!!!!!

2014-06-26 13.46.05
This was my second every book sculpture.  I love to be able to leave the pages behind the image so it still looks like the book and not a diorama.

What the……….well if he had bothered to look at my work he would have seen that my book sculptures are nothing like his work.  One of my tutors once said ” Everything has been done before it all comes down to what version you can create”  and he is right, could you think what would happen if the person who invented books told this artist” You can’t use book’s stop copying my work and do something original.” Or if the first person who painted a picture in oil paint went ” Oi mine, you can’t use that, invent your own paint”  there would be a very exclusive club for all art works.

Rant and tangent over :/.  I can though understand where he is coming from and he may well get copied a lot and worked very hard on perfecting their method, so I do sympathise.  But that then set me thinking about inspiration and how you use it when you have seen something that does inspire you and  you don’t want to  inadvertently copy someone else.  Which takes me back to   Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene and her cross stitching into solid objects.  What could I cross stitch into that would be different………..

First attempt………

rose disc 1
Picked an impossible pattern, well it is when you haven’t done cross stitch since infant school.

 

Cross Stitched into a 12 inch 78 Vinyl disc, I was blown away with the reaction I got from this, and I plan to do more when I have a bit more time.  This project took me over 30 hrs to complete and I hit my usual ” my God why did I start this for, why did I think this was such a dam good  idea”…………… Well it was and then went and did it again but this time it took over 60 hrs.

plastic tattoo

You know when they say an artist suffers for their art………..yeah I did that alright with this one but it was worth it.  This is my most time expensive piece ever.

Art from previous years
Penny for stitch size reference.

I didn’t count at the time but it was approx 400 to 500 holes drilled, I think my eyes went a little squiffy half way through so I am not sure; as you can see there are quite a few colour variations as well.  Because the mannequin is quite big I also had to staple it to a block of wood to keep it upright to help with stitching and had to use a pair of pliers to pull the needle through the holes as once you get the thread going through the hole more than 3 times it’s begins to get tough.

It made me wonder what else I could do with thread but was not going to be quite so tough to do.  Do a portrait maybe.

sam portrait
Portrait of my daughter when she had green hair. Made with wool.

This was a fun one to do, still took quite some time but not as much as the previous too.  But it brings me to this question, is it copying or is it inspiration.  Is painting something in front of you copying or being inspired by what you see enough to paint it as well as you can?  As an artist I don’t tend to stick to one media or style as a lot of artist do, I love to mix it up, but I am sure if I googled all the processes and media I have used I am sure I will find someone who has done it all before me.  So I will still look up artist for research, I will still scour Pinterest for inspiration and I will tell someone else how they can do the same kinds of art if they want to give it a try.

Time to find something else to stitch into 😉

visit me and see my work on http://www.shalmines.com

Work In Progress

Working on a few new ideas, playing with used teabag and bits to see what i can come up with.

Shal Mines Artist.

Who Killed the Stage Hand Diorama Book Sculpture

So when I attended college at the ripe old age of 47 to take up Art and Design with the possibility of becoming a professional one day I never thought about doing a blog.  Its all the rage they said, everybody is doing it. (gulp)  Then we had this nice guy come in for a 1 day workshop called Jamie Chalmers AKA Mr Cross stitch (https://www.instagram.com/mrxstitch/?hl=en).

I found his workshop massively helpful as even though the main body of his workshop is about cross stitch, he gave some very helpful advice about all that internet shenanigans.  “When you write your first blog, it will be rubbish and so will the second and maybe the first 10 or so, but don’t worry, just write what ever and get it all out of your system”.  He’s wright I have not a clue on what to write, so here is my first pile of drivel……..I mean blog.

I am a want to be artist with a passion for the unusual, curiosity, and just plain weird kinds of art.  My passion is not to express mine or other peoples pain, its not even to make my art a talking point.  My art is about taking the viewer back to that child like moment of wonder and discovery, of how did they do that, OMG look at that.  Just pure joy and amazement at what they are seeing.  Here are a few of my pieces, I have a portfolio online, I hope you enjoy.  (phew first blog wasn’t so bad was it.)