The art of confusion

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Dear Artist,

While looking at art in art galleries, I also look at people looking at art. Artists, of course, tend to look at art for different reasons than ordinary folks and are, therefore, more difficult to study. Among ordinary folks, a wide range of discernible reaction and readable body language is apparent. Some reactions seem to be almost totally based on what people have been told or learned. I call these “programmed reactions.” Other more direct and “pure” reactions range from awe to disgust. Thankfully, they often include joy. Some viewers have a visceral reaction that may even be accompanied by a temporary or prolonged state of trance. Jaws drop, bodies go limp and people are seen to sit or stand, not quite knowing what’s happening.

The active ingredients of this sort of trance are feelings of confusion.

The much discussed and debated 20th century psychoanalyst and clinical hypnotist Milton H. Erickson had quite a bit to say about confusion. A consummate joker, even in his own practice, he used confusion and its incumbent trance to quickly open a window into his clients’ psychotic or neurotic state.

A typical Erickson trick was the “confused handshake” — known among our friendly shrinks as “handshake induction.” On meeting someone for the first time Erickson would reach out a hand only to grasp on to the other person’s wrist. Then he would withdraw his hand in a sort of sensitive and sneaky way, trailing a finger or thumb lightly over the recipient’s palm or finger tips. Surprised and disoriented by this unconventional touch, most recipients were at least temporarily set off in a state of trance.

Fact is, a state of trance (and thus psychological control) is readily effected by this sort of confusion.

I thoroughly recommend the hobby of watching people in galleries. In those arts where standards of craftsmanship and creative competence might be expected, a work of art with little or no craftsmanship or apparent competence has a good chance to beguile. Thus, a piece exhibited in a prestigious museum reaches out to the viewer like a handshake ready to be grasped and greeted — then rewards the viewer with something other than expected. Even uninterested viewers can be delivered a life-enhancing (or mind-bending) transportation that brings on a sense of awe.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “Use of the confusion technique has many times effected exceedingly rapid hypnotic inductions under conditions such as acute pain and even in hostile, aggressive and resistant persons.” (Milton H. Erickson)

Esoterica: Just as evangelicals, politicians, salespersons and psychiatrists can use baffling thoughts, images and ideas to accomplish their objectives, artists can employ similar means to attract and hold attention. Confusion is created by ambiguity, complexity, pattern interruption, insult, ignorance, contradiction, poor taste, shock, beguiling illusion, surprise, incompleteness and the propagation of riddle and mystery — all ploys that are familiar and readily available to visual artists.

Museum-goers mimic exhibited work
by Patricia Sharp, Millbridge, ME, USA

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“New serene stream”
original painting by Patricia Sharp

I attended a Picasso exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art years ago. I was fascinated to observe that, as we progressed from room to room from the early serene works to the abstract, people’s movements reflected the content of the work. They became louder and jerkier progressively as the work evolved kinetically in a time line. It was a real eye opener for me. Thanks for the reminder. I am doing the Brooklyn Art Library’s sketchbook project; have chosen Uncharted Waters as my topic to utilize the Energy of Water series I have been working on. At first glance, Waters was the key word for me. Now Uncharted has gained prominence in importance — much edgier!

Fascinating confusion
by Beverly Galante, Austin, TX, USA

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“Jeune Critique”
original painting by Beverly Galante

I was at a fashion art show in Holland and caught a little girl looking at one of the mannequins. It was so not a programmed reaction; I just had to paint the scene. A lot of people are actually “confused” at my painting. I find that extremely fascinating in itself.

A cheerleader of art
by Patricia Coyle, Franklin, NY, USA

I, too, love to watch people in galleries and museums. Once, we went to see a wonderful show of Egon Schiele’s work and I was in tears looking at some of the paintings. I observed the crowd, some glancing at the artwork, then walking away as if they have the same paintings in their own houses. (“Oh, we have seen these before” or “My child could do that.”) I want to scream at the top of my lungs and shout, “This may be the best art you’ll ever see in your life. You should re-consider that half glance!” Yes, I am a cheerleader of art. In college, one of my professors said she didn’t know what the university would do without my enthusiasm.



There is 1 comment for A cheerleader of art by Patricia Coyle

From: Robyn Rinehart — Dec 01, 2011

I LOVE Egon Scheile’s work! I went to a gallery recently to view a retrospective of William Delafield Cook. I asked an artist friend to come too. She strode through the gallery, barely stopping at each glorious work, sniffing that they were ‘like photographs’. No!!! I too, had walked in and looked and nearly cried with joy.

Falling in love with confusion
by Allan Neal, London, UK

One tends at first to fall deeper in love with the person who confuses you most. Persons who lay down a trail of confusion, do not, however, make the best long-term connections. Much modern art, like many of our confused, modern persons are in reality moving targets and difficult to pin down. Thus they can be endlessly talked about and even modified to some degree by the pundits, critics and the psychiatrists. Simpler, more wholesome things and people leave less to discuss and serve very well indeed.

Disconcerting handshake
by Melodie Herbert, White Rock, BC, Canada

I take some exception to the confusion-inducing handshake of the psychoanalyst Milton H. Erickson that you described. Many women of my generation would interpret a handshake with a male, where he runs a finger down the palm of the woman’s hand at the end, as a sexual invitation. Many would be extremely alarmed, and possibly frightened, if this occurred on the first meeting with a health professional they were seeing for the purpose of getting help for psychological, emotional or mental health problems! I believe it would be very inappropriate, in current times, when professional boundaries are expected to be maintained. It could destroy trust on the part of the patient. It could also result in a lawsuit. I am personally unable to comment as to whether a male might interpret this is in the same way, but I suspect it would be. So, although creating confusion in art may be interesting, creating confusion through touch in a health care encounter would be subject to censure. No wonder this man was controversial.

I am a former nurse, and currently a physician and have worked continuously in health care since 1975.

(RG note) Thanks, Melodie. A well-known psychiatrist greeted me thus in a social situation, looked at me with a whimsical, devilish smile, as if to say, “There, I got you — you fakir.” Indeed, he got me as I stood there for a few confused seconds until I realized he was just giving me some of my own. Recognizing similar qualities in each other, we have since become quite good friends.



There are 8 comments for Disconcerting handshake by Melodie Herbert

From: Faith — Dec 01, 2011

That’s exactly how I felt. My first thought was that this Mr. E. is a pervert! That was my second one, Too. It is common knowledge (or should be) that people with power use it, some wisely, some wickedly. People seeking medical or psychological help are vulnerable and should not be subject to witchery of any kind.

From: Jackie Knott — Dec 02, 2011

Ditto. Some people delight in manipulating others. In most professional arenas that “handshake” would have gotten a lot of men in trouble. It’s a form of exercising power over another individual, which is one element of sexual harrassment. I question the doctor’s motives and his own psychological balance.

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Dec 02, 2011

Thank you for your comments, my thoughts as well. I am a retired clinical Social Worker. The man sounds manipulative and swarmy to me. His actions certainly designed to control others and gain power in social situations.

From: Anonymous — Dec 02, 2011

Quite frankly, this sounds like much more fun than the contemporary sterile North American social rules. I am not frightened of creepy handshakes, nor from whistling men in the street or juicy jokes. Calling those things harassment is over the top – what a dull world we have now. I’d like to have known the creepy shrink guy, he must have been a fun person to know.

From: Anonymous — Dec 02, 2011

Anonymous, you’re an idiot.

From: Jackie Knott — Dec 02, 2011

Fun? FUN?! Dear God in heaven, anonymous, you must be a man. If not, you’re a sadly disallusioned woman. Having been subjected to relatively mild harrassment in the US Air Force, I well know the pressure imposed for advancement as a woman in a man’s world.

We’re not talking about mild flirtation — we’re talking about survival dependant on submiting to sexual favors that either guarantee success or failure.

From: Patsy, Antrim — Dec 03, 2011

I felt a shudder of revulsion when I read what Erickson did.

My reaction would have been to whip my hand away as fast as possible and avoid the creep thereafter!

Racy jokes and whistles in the street are relatively impersonal — this is offensive.

From: Anonymous — Dec 05, 2011

No, idiots are the people who subject other people to harassment. Happened to me few times. I hate the idea that we have penalized the whole world because of those jerks, who don’t even get affected by the anti-harassment laws. They just migrate to the professions that manage to be above the law, like military as someone mentioned. In the meantime, people are robbed off their innocent nature. Touching of hands is not illegal nor it should be – if you easily get freaked out, you don’t have to shake hands.

What it takes to get a look-see
by Robin Shillcock, Groningen, Netherlands

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“To every hog its own apple”
mixed media painting by Robin Shillcock

Like corvids, people tend to react to contrast. It’s common knowledge that magpies are attracted to shiny objects, but my experience tells me that it would react the same if a rabbit dropping were put out in a room full of silver and crystal. It’s the contrast that attracts its attention. Hang a piece of crap among great art and it will reduce the whole exhibition to shambles, because that’s all that people will talk about.

I’ve sketched people in museums in St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) in London (UK, not Ontario), in Owen Sound (yep, Canada) and in Sweden, Germany and Netherlands. In Nantes I watched a bunch of kids sort of flake out in front of a huge oil depicting a bunch of people washed ashore in a jumble of dead limbs and grotesque faces. They exuded fascination more than shock, awe or trance. The adults accompanying them were busy leafing through the museum guide.

In the Musée d’Orsay (Paris, France) I watched a loud American couple in one of the 19th century galleries standing awe-struck in front of a scene of prehistoric men coming back from the hunt. I remember one painted foot being about the size of the man’s upper body. At last they moved on to the enxt oil, tucked away in the corner: Courbet’s The Origin of the World, a smallish oil showing the uncovered middle parts of a reclining woman with a lush spray of black pubes. Actually, I had been waiting for this. It took them a second to take in the image and then the woman dragged her husband away. It was all over in two seconds tops. A few years earlier, in the Gothenburg Museum of Art (Sweden, not New England), I watched another American couple (loud, obvious) come up to a really fine painting of a fox lying in the underbrush with songbirds flitting among the leaves. The woman grunted and pointed at the fox’s anal patch, clearly visible as the animal’s tail was lifted. “Oh, I don’t like that at all,” she said and moved on to the next painting.

No trance, no confusion that I could see, shock I could only imagine.

Most visitors to galleries tend to close off when they come upon something unexpected. Laughter is a way of putting a barrier between yourself and what you are looking at. Disgust, anger, boredom, but also profound interest — people trying to understand what they see, trying to look through the artist’s eyes. Many make up their own stories. It’s all there, flowing around you, and it’s great! I’ve been favourably surprised at what visitors to one of my shows may come up with. Some have weird thoughts; others relate personal experiences that sometimes sound better than my own.

We are all conditioned by outside factors when we enter an exhibition. For me as an artist there may be great anticipation that could be doused dead flat, or I could leave feeling inspired to go home and try harder. For the general public the context is indeed what they have been told or have learned. Big exhibitions, marketed like blockbuster movies on TV with voice-overs recommending the artist on show as “Finland’s Rembrandt” or “The Monet of Massachusetts” and such irritating rubbish, appears to work: a few seconds on TV gets you thousands of visitors the following day. I may not like it, but it puts people in a different kind of trance: they feel compelled to go for a look-see. In the end, that’s what counts.

The wisdom of the smile
by Louise Francke, NC, USA

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Untitled
painting by Louise Francke

Back in the late ’70s, I had numerous hand-pulled lithographs from my feminist period in a Print Making Exhibit at SECCA. I was always curious as to how viewers received my thought provoking works of that period. At the opening, an old genteel woman approached my litho Revelations slowly. She stood in front for more than the usual period of quick perfunctory looking. As her eyes wandered over the litho, slowly she stepped back and her hand came to her mouth as if to gasp. Watching her subconsciously affected me and actually spurred me to move on in my themes. Although I have always delved into psychological realism, it was to make the viewer aware but not to invoke pain. It took a decade to work out my womanhood, single parenting and motherhood of 2 adolescent boys. Then came an exhibit of environment-oriented art and I came away feeling that the viewer felt bludgeoned by my surreal oil paintings. Once again I withdrew and tried to figure out how to make a statement about the endangered with a deceptive humor. Funny thing happened to me. I enjoyed hearing laughter as people viewed these preposterous animals in master paintings compositions. Basically I am a happy person extroverted with friends who makes art for the joy of it and giving it to the public to also enjoy. Yes, quite often there may be a subconscious statement behind the eloquent presentation. In that manner, I have not given up altogether my conscience concerning the issues I find immediately important and yet I have brought a smile to your face, or at least a grin.

Hypnosis and left-right brain shift
by Dr. Peter Berndt, The Woodlands, TX, USA

Medical hypnosis is a vast field. Having worked with this technique for over thirty years I have had the privilege of working with many patients who have been some of my best teachers. In addition to uses in the field of psychiatry and general medicine I have found it beneficial in non-medical application such athletics and the arts. Two such recent examples are the work I did with a young painter and a musician/composer. The composer had been working on a commission for some time and needed to have finished by a deadline.

The time pressure set up the environment in which a creative block had occurred which made the composition come to a dead stop. Despite his best efforts he was unable to overcome the blockage, demonstrating the law of reversed effect which says that “the harder you try, the less you can.” The increasing anxiety and frustration cemented the situation in place and the creative block became complete for him.

I saw him at that point on referral from his therapist. We went through the basic hypnosis training, with him making entry into the hypnotic state easier and easier. There is a great deal of misunderstanding of what hypnosis really is, which is neither sleep nor regular consciousness, but rather a state of relaxed but focused mental concentration. I should tell you that everyone who is properly motivated can get into hypnosis easily since it is the stage that we all go through in the process of falling asleep at night when we pass from consciousness to sleep. We all know what happens if we do not go through this stage of relaxation: we stay awake. What that means is that everyone does hypnosis at least once daily, whether we know it or not. Both the painter and the composer were what is called “good hypnotic subjects.” What is meant by that is they were able to get into hypnosis easily. The composer used the calm mental focus of the hypnotic state for the purpose of trying out different scenarios for his composition. He developed an image of the creative block which was the picture of several huge rocks in the middle of a stream. He visualized himself moving these rocks around and eventually out of the way. The hypnosis reduced his anxiety and that reduced his sense of helplessness. Previewing different ways to finish his composition offered more choices that had not occurred to him in everyday conscious awareness. This is where hypnosis allows access to those parts of the mind which we usually have no access to and therefore do not know are there. Since then the composition has had its first public performance. The painter, well known regionally and aspiring to enter the national stage, had a slightly different problem. He had been raised by a father who had told him in different ways that no matter what he did it was not good enough. This artist had to function and produce with a severe critic always at his back. Again, as with the composer, he had a crippling background anxiety and self-doubt that made creating new work difficult, and the paintings that might have just flowed were an ordeal. In hypnosis, he was not only able to lessen the chronic anxiety state, he also expanded the use of the hypnotic calm to preview paintings in their completed state. At one point he visualized himself walking through a gallery where he saw his paintings on the walls, which was very gratifying and which boosted his self-esteem significantly. Another time he visualized working on a work-in-progress and also, like the composer, trying out different ways of handling various passages in the painting. He recognized this last strategy as being very useful and it helped him realize the final state more quickly than in the past. The reduction of anxiety, an accomplishment in both men, and the rehearsal of different outcomes while in the hypnotic state seemed to be what conferred the benefit of this approach to resolving complete or partial creative blocks. In addition there is a likelihood (one that I believe firmly) that the hypnotic state represents a successful shift from left to right brain thinking.

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From: Alyson Stanfield — Nov 28, 2011

As a former museum educator, I was well aware of the “label readers” and was very careful how we wrote our labels. (We wrote labels that encouraged looking and engagement.)

On a recent trip to MoMA I noticed many people taking pictures rather than looking. I don’t quite know what to make of this yet.

From: Ellen McCord — Nov 28, 2011

Ah! Now I know where my psychiatrist friend got this idea. One day when we were on a bike ride with his two year old behind him, he asked her, “Do you want to go to the park?” Answer, “No.” “Do you want to have some lunch?” “No.” “How about some ice cream?” “No.” Then he said, “Say ‘no’ to me Sally.” She became very confused.

From: Ann McCutchan — Nov 29, 2011

As a writer, I intentionally employ confusion in at least two ways. One is to write in different surroundings; each change in the course of a long project forces me to get out of my head and adjust, shaking up the work. Another, with both myself and the reader in mind, is to make sure there is an element of surprise in nearly every paragraph — not an arbitrary shock, but a fine turn of phrase (a great metaphor, perhaps), a little-known fact, a switch in my point of view (self-questioning), unexpected humor. There are others. Employing any of these well depends on timing. The ice cream anecdote above wouldn’t have been so effective without the three inquiries and three “nos” preceding the surprising question. Good story-telling depends on good timing. I wonder how this corresponds to the making of visual art.

From: Dwight — Nov 29, 2011

A comment on Judy Minor’s painting. Aside from the terrificly handled detail of the piece, please look closely beyond that at the composition. The connected lights and darks beyond mere natural shapes are wonderful. I don’t know Judy, but if she paints like this regularly..WOW!!

From: Elizabeth Seltzer — Nov 29, 2011
From: John Ferrie — Nov 29, 2011

Dear Robert,

I have to comment on character “Erickson” and his “confused handshake”. This is paramount to the guy who tells you there is a spot on your tie and when you look down he flips you in the nose and then laughs about it. This Doctor, doing this “trick” when someone simply puts out their hand in friendship is a terrible thing to do to an unknowing suspect. This guy is a Butthead! How would he know what sort of medical condition someone has upon meeting them. I don’t want to be in a “trance” state so someone can observe my reaction. I would be surprised if someone didn’t just wind up and clock this guy one! Then he can do a study about what people look like when he is laying on the ground!

As far as people looking at art, at least they take a moment and look. That is all you can ever ask of anyone…

John Ferrie

From: Elizabeth Barry — Nov 29, 2011

A week or so ago, in the Sunday NYT I read a piece about getting tired in galleries, and how exhausted people look when having to dash by something they might like to linger on, only because there was something ahead that they knew was there, and were aiming for. The main thing I took away from the article was his theory that the better or “more profound” the piece of art, or the show, the longer one needed to stop to gaze; and this necessary gazing, taking it in, processing it in one’s mind, the more exhausted one felt, and would be overcome by a blank tiredness; I forget his phrase for that — museum mind, or something? But, he said that when the art is second rate, not good enough, one could scan it without getting exhausted, as it didn’t require a monumental engagement. In historical museums, this super-exhaustion does not happen; one is able to wander about reading labels or whatever, without stopping to engage deeply in to commit it to one’s brain, and not getting tired.

From: Paula Timpson — Nov 29, 2011

True art is clear,

straight from the heart,

simple as the Sun ,

rising

each morning in pink ~gold skies~

Art , understands emotions

& believing in Life, it

transforms Souls,

open to its

Wonders~

From: Sara-J Martley — Nov 29, 2011

Well I’m the real deal and when I went to see an exhibition of Matisse’s work being shown in Amsterdam last year and I was confronted with the “Red Room”, I was suddenly completely overcome with real emotion collapsed on the floor burst into tears and had to be carried out of the building by my beloved husband.

From: Joseph Jahn — Nov 29, 2011

A well crafted piece, can stun a chicken.

From: Terri Shows — Nov 29, 2011

What you describe in the psychotherapy setting feels like manipulation where there ought first of all to be trust. I am inclined to apply the same standard to the relationship between myself as artist and the viewer.

From: Liz Schamehorn — Nov 29, 2011

Confusion! My favorite! I love creating an image that is partly recognizable from our visual experience, but then muddling things so that the viewer spends several moments, hopefully happy ones, trying to puzzle it out. Some of my work is based on the human face, which can be almost disguised into oblivion and people will still find it. Some other work is based on the forest around me; I mix up the trees and the spaces between them. People start following a tree trunk and it becomes a space…

From: Liz Nees — Nov 29, 2011

Oh I don’t know if that handshake would put someone in a trance state. Most likely it would make them angry, because the handshake you describe is very very creepy. Psychiatrists and psychoanalysts have a long history of being “superior” to their patients, and of not helping them one little bit. This outright manipulation of the patient is right down their alley, and does not surprise me one bit.

But regarding the Trance state when viewing Art. That is something amazing isn’t it? I think it deserves more study.

From: Beatriz E Ledesma PhD — Nov 30, 2011

Thank you for your always inspiring and insightful notes on our art practice! They are always a delight for me. A correction on this one though- Milton Erickson was not a psychoanalyst but a psychiatrist and hypnotherapist. He was color blind and had to deal with polio on his late teens– all which may have contributed to the development of his non conventional hypnotherapy technique.

From: Connie — Dec 01, 2011

Unless I misunderstood completely, I was really taken aback at this post and am appalled that an artist of integrity would create a feeling of confusion between her/himself and the viewer. I agree with some of the posters that there is great difference between interesting surprises and demeaning tricks to deliberately create confusion and gain an upper hand. There is absolutely no confusion in the works of the great artists I admire. Their talent, hard work and honesty shine through clear as a cloudless day.

From: Gavin Logan — Dec 01, 2011

Poor Connie (above) is obviously not looking at modern art or is in denial of the methodology, conscious or unconscious, that goes on in artist’s studios every day. A lot of excellent art is loaded with “ambiguity, complexity, pattern interruption, insult, ignorance, contradiction, poor taste, shock, beguiling illusion, surprise, incompleteness and the propagation of riddle and mystery.”

From: Anon — Dec 01, 2011

Connie is watching too many Disney moves.

From: manny ny — Dec 01, 2011

i just had the good fortune of seeing the DeKooning exhibit at MOMA NY (on view thru jan 12). staggeringly beautiful. it literally took my breath away.

i don’t think this was the effect of one painting, but the cumulative effect of seeing a life’s work. a monumental achievement.

a sense of awe? you bet. confusion? i’d have to say yes. most of the time i couldn’t say what he was getting at.

From: manny ny — Dec 01, 2011

…but i don’t think de Kooning himself could say. i think each painting was more an exploration. i find most art that moves me is fraught with mystery.

From: Helen Howes — Dec 02, 2011

Many years ago, when I first lived in London, I visited many of the great galleries. One day, I turned a corner (I think it was in the National) and at the end of a very long room, was a huge late-period Monet Waterlilies which filled the whole end wall. I could smell the water; was transfixed by the beauty and power of this enormous and utterly gorgeous work. After about 20 minutes, I was thrown out. Apparently, too much attention to one work is unhealthy.

Later in life, in a gallery in Belgium, I sat with my partner in front of a huge (30 by 15 foot) Biblical epic by some unremembered local painter from the 19th century. It was a riot of people, animals, trees, rising moons, chaos, and confusion, and great fun. After a little while the (Francophone) guard came to ask, rather crossly, if we were disparaging his charge, as it was “tres important” to the town… And the gallery was built to house it.

I think any truly great artisi changes the way you look at the world in subtle or other ways. This can be confusing, but oh! the pleasure!

From: Sarah Atkins — Dec 02, 2011

Disparaging remarks are unnecessary when one disagrees with an opinion. This is a forum where everyone should feel free to express their opinions without being personally attacked. Those who made such remarks about Connie have shown their own ignorance.

From: Marsha Hamby Savage — Dec 02, 2011

Thanks Sarah for saying what you did. I agree that everyone is entitled to their own likes and dislikes and should not be disparaged because it is not someone else’s.

Regarding the letter, I also like a little mystery, maybe not considered confusion, but something that makes people want to stay longer… or to come back again and find something they did not see the first time. Robert, your letters always make me think deeper!

From: Darlene — Dec 02, 2011

Judy Minor’s “Nappers” is awesome. It took my breath away! I could look at it every day.

From: Susan-Rose Slatkoff — Dec 02, 2011

My favourite art gallery experience took place n 1969 at The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark at a Calder exhibition. Calder had created a floor installation of terra cotta bowls of all different sizes in a haphazard pattern. Hanging above them was a ball which swung from the end of a cantilevered holder. As the ball swung over the bowls, it randomly clanged into the bowls, making lovely sounds of all different pitches. It took about five minutes for the revolutions to come to a halt. At first I was captivated watching and listening. Then, when the attendant swung the ball after it stopped, I began to watch the responses of people as they entered the gallery. They began by seeming mildly amused, then being transfixed, and then proceeding to watch the reactions of people just entering the space. It was truly a time/space/sound masterpiece. I have never forgotten it and am still filled with pleasure at the memory.

From: Connie — Dec 04, 2011

Thank you Sarah — I’m not insulted.

Gavin and Anon — Thanks for sharing. Too bad you are unable to enter into a serious discussion. It might have been interesting.

From: Eric Ellis — Dec 04, 2011

Great forum. The greatest. Isn’t that the way it should be? Anyone can say anything they want? That’s how we learn and test our own prejudices.

From: Deb Hamilton — Dec 19, 2011

As a psychotherapist I really need to weigh in on the “creepy handshake.” I work with a lot of trauma survivors and they often get triggered by someone’s actions. It is possible that the “trance” that Erickson describes is in fact dissociation, possibly because someone engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with the person. There are many trauma survivors out there, and we need to be mindful of maintaining appropriate boundaries with others.

 

 

 

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