I’ve been drawing again. This is my drawing so far.
I asked a random person for a response. The answer was: ‘I’m not sure’. So I turned the drawing upside down and asked the same question.
The response was: ‘That’s better’. I found this change of mind interesting. The drawing hadn’t changed. It doesn’t matter to me which way up the drawing is. However, the first way up caused this person an obvious sense of unbalance. The second way up, gave him reason for relief. It is the same drawing, so why? I believe that this is connected to the ‘top heavy’ nature of the first version. Is the fact that when the drawing has the green shape at the top and the first division between the three objects coming over half way down the board, the image has less appeal? Is it because the brain needs to understand any semi-abstract image it comes across and ‘turn’ it into something less abstract and more comforting? Was my viewer seeking a figure, one that hopefully wasn’t standing on their head? Although my drawing isn’t strictly an abstract drawing, it has abstract qualities to it. The viewer was perhaps trying to reconcile and understand it fully. Their brain didn’t feel settled until they could see a form to it.
Is this partly to do with the shape, or dimensions, of the board? Most abstract drawing or painting is on a square or a near-square format. There is a reason for that. Canvases that are taller than they are wide are associated with portraiture. Turn them on their side, then the brain looks to find the landscape whether it be urban or rural. When the brain sees a square, it is less likely to seek a narrative or a specific form in the shapes and colours on the canvas. It probably still will (or at least I think so) but this process is less obvious and less immediate. Perhaps in those cases, anxiety isn’t the first response if the rules of the golden mean (consciously or otherwise) hasn’t been followed. There isn’t a mismatch between what is on the canvas (chaos, no narrative) and what the brain expects (a figure or a landscape, a narrative).
I think this is an interesting concept to play with. I quite like creating anxiety and uncertainty in the viewer. I like it when the viewer questions what they see. It is interesting when they feel unease, but can’t say why.
My chosen viewer then asked me to turn the drawing on its side.
I did so, and asked what they thought now. Interestingly, it didn’t matter which way up it was. Both ways were ‘reasonably pleasant’ to the viewer. I asked them whether they found the lack of shadows disturbing. Oddly, against my expectation, they said they didn’t. I wondered whether it would upset the brain to see shapes floating when in a landscape format, they would be sitting on a surface. In this case, not.
Hmmm, I think I have many things to ponder. What shall I question next?