Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Searching For Art

A recent St. Petersburg Times story, “Seeking but never finding,” caught my attention. According to behavioral scientists, there is a biological explanation why we’ve become addicted to Google searches.

It appears this activity stimulates a region of the brain called the lateral hypothalamus, or “seeking center.” The constant arousal of this region is what compels people to sit for hours at a computer googling. Some psychologists believe that doing this over time renders us unable to perform concentrated thinking or extensive reading.

I can now disclose that I have first hand experience of this new phenomenon. Last month, after moving my art studio back home, it became necessary to rearrange my workspace. The living room has again become the matting and framing area. The dining room table now doubles as a wet- media work station.

Taking advantage of the only available north light, I placed my drawing board by the bedroom window – directly across from the computer. Bad move!

Creating for me requires an empty mind, so before beginning each day, I must first sweep out the place. Every distracting thought skulking in the corner is pushed out the door, every yapping desire temporarily chained outside. Only then in the emptiness of the present moment does inspiration show itself.

This process is difficult in the best of times. Throw in the instant gratification of one Google fix and another and another and making art gets down right impossible.

I wonder who the world’s tallest man is.
Google: “Sultan Kosen, a Kurdish shepherd living in Turkey is 8’1.5” tall.”
Kurds? Aren’t they the largest ethnic group without a country?
Google: ‘There are about 35 million Kurds today living as minority populations in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.”
What is the capital of Syria?

Hours later I look up and wonder where the time went. A blank canvas remains on the easel. Clean brushes are lined up waiting to be pressed into service. The Google home page glows from my monitor.

I wonder who the world’s shortest man is.

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