Noise can be considered a background event like clutter which we must see through to find meaning like,”where did I leave my keys amidst all this clutter?”
Noise is usually an atmosphere of interference through which we must sift to find meaning or, we can reorganize it through simplification. Our visual world like our auditory world is packed with cluttering ambient noise. We quest into the noise to find decipherable patterns. For example we look at the leaf litter on a forest floor or the rustle of leaves in a tree. Here there is too much information to find meaning so we dismiss further looking. But, if we pause to take a restful breath we inevitably start pulling meaning from the leafy chaos. We can be surprised by emerging patterns that look like faces, or bodies, or animals. We have found images; we found meaning other than the keys we were looking for.
We look with expectation as we look for our keys amidst domestic clutter. Our looking with expectation/anticipation blinds us to seeing what else lies in the visual clutter. But, if we are relaxed and unhurried we can be surprised by what else we see when looking into visual clutter.
By looking with anticipation we project qualities of order onto the visual noise. If we relax and dismiss the idea finding our keys we allow our mind’s eye to start conjuring images from the chaos, we find something else. This is how Pierre Bonnard built his landscape in example 1. He found the landscape while looking at the paint. He found the landscape that lived in front of him in Le Cannet, France and the landscape that emerged from within him.
If we are unhurried and relaxed we can become distracted by new discoveries. If we are focused on finding the keys then, we don’t encounter other discoveries. We only see what we are looking for. If we can stop looking for something we will find something else. By purposeful questing we miss opportunities for alternative discoveries ripening within the visual clutter. We can’t help it. It’s the way we are wired, we always quest for meaning. However, If we are relaxed we can be surprised by stumbling over something else of value other than our keys. Painting works well this way.
In my work I try to generate fields of luminous noise which offer opportunities for discovery. I then compulsively start to organize the noise around my discovery. It’s difficult to sustain the noise but, if I can then I will have created a tableau which invites sustained looking and investigation. Others will attend to my arena of noisy possibilities.
Here are a couple of examples. In looking a photo of wet city streets at night a found patterns of sparkling lights that aggregated into a cityscape (see example 2). I reorganized the visual noise. And after looking at a photo of a wild meadow garden I found new dancing patterns light and dark shapes. Again, I reorganized the visual noise (example 3 and 4).
In example 5, 6, and 7 you can follow me as I try to order the noise of light patterns into a coherent design.
I invite you to join me in my online Zoom classes with painting demonstrations and individual critiques at either daviddunlop.com or Silvermineart.org.