Always try to look beyond the obvious, no matter what you are observing. Over the years, black-and-white photographs have been a teacher for me in this. Our physical reality exists in layers, and in the case of monochrome images as an example, the top layer of color has been “peeled away”.
Layers of distraction
We strongly respond to color and are very distracted by it. When color is removed from a photograph, the form, line, and texture become much more apparent. The structure, the essence of a thing starts to pop out. There is so much more there that we don’t see at first glance.
The landscape below is a good example. In a color version, most likely the vibrant turquoise water, blazing white sand, and deep blue sky would attract our eyes first. Think of color as the cosmetics of the scene, much as a woman might enhance her face with makeup. But the artist purposely removed color, and hence the tree dominates, in all of its bare bones candor. Beautifully sculptural, the tree is very alive in this picture. I can feel its movement; I am acutely aware of its form.
Peel away the layers, look deeper
The takeaway? This is a simple example of a black-and-white tree. But in every encounter you have, be it with an individual, scenery, or society around you, start to look deeper, beneath the covers. What is hiding underneath what is readily apparent?
Rest assured, it is there, waiting to be noticed. And more often than you might imagine, it is important.
Be aware of, and beware of, the top layer, the facade, the distraction. It keeps us our consciousness on a superficial level. It’s not only what we are observing that is so much more, but so are we!
Photo courtesy Rodolfo Clix and Flickr, Pexels
Perception | Peel the layers © Susan L Hart 2019