A podcast with the artist…
This podcast was recorded using Skype.
The eye of the beholder
As Richard and I discuss in this podcast, art, like so many other human activities, is almost impossible to define. It is, however, all about perception in the most comprehensive sense of that word. Whether it is the artist or the spectator, art can give an intense feeling of understanding something essential in the human condition; and that feeling may be conscious, subconscious, or even inherent somewhere in the unconscious. Art is also a medium for rendering that which (initially) seems obscure, more lucid; and in so doing the artist and viewer can silently interact offering insights from their separate and sometimes integrated perspectives.
Furthermore, it may actually be perceptiveness that is at the core of the work of many artists like Richard; a keenness for insight which is also intuitive. This clear-sightedness, one of the multiple intelligences our species is known for, may also be what permits some to see beyond the obvious.
As I have followed Richard’s artistic journey, I have come to understand more how his artistic vision and sensory experiences enable him to see the forest and the trees. And I think it is this ability to see both the parts and the whole that is especially remarkable in his work.
In my article Iconoclastic Travel: Applying Brain Science to Travel and Tourism I explore how Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist, examines the way in which the human brain is influenced by the three significant and principal functions of perception, fear response (or lack thereof), and social intelligence. Citing such examples as Van Gogh and Picasso, Berns, author of Iconcoclast: a neurosicentist reveals how to think differently, also emphasizes that perception itself is not hardwired into the human brain; it is instead a process learned through experience, and subject to constant revision. What the senses “see” must be interpreted.
And it seems to me that artists like Richard are extremely capable of interpreting and communicating to their audiences details that may have been overlooked or underestimated, and in this way the artistic process is both interconnected and interdependent.
Above all, Berns makes a clear distinction between vision and perception, emphasizing that what registers on the retina or is “heard” by the ear, or even perceived through the complex olfactory organs (including the taste buds) is only a quick snapshot of the world because, quite frankly, the brain is busy.
From a scientific point of view, what many refer to as vision is just photons entering the eye and being transformed into neural signals by the brain. Perception, however, is the process of interpreting these signals. The eye is the lens, but the brain is where the distinct and individualistic processing of what is “seen” occurs.
This exploration of how some extraordinary individuals have a heightened sense of perception and the ability to communicate their vision to others is pure brain science. And I would venture to guess that the brain of Richard Boswell is that of an iconoclast.
Art and philosophy
Whether art can be defined or not, has always been a controversial issue. But we do know that art has existed in virtually every human culture that has existed on this planet. Art of course changes over time; public tastes, genres, and forms of art themselves evolve and diversify.
And yet, few would deny that there is something universal and timeless in art; and perhaps that awareness of an essential aesthetic in the landscapes around may be intrinsic to our collective human psyche.
As John Updike once said, “What art offers is space, a certain breathing room for the spirit.”
More images of Richard’s work including paintings, mixed media, and photographs
These images are courtesy of and copyright of Richard Boswell