Have you ever wondered how memory works?
Doesn't it surprise you how fast certain memories fade and how some remain engrained in you, as fresh as it was yesterday; how you can forget this or that, but remember say, exactly what a kiss feels like, even if you haven't been kissed for a few years; the first time someone called you babe, how a scent can whisk you right back to a time and place; how a song can bring back a flood of memories you may never have recalled otherwise?
How the mind works is amazing. We really still have only the vaguest idea of how the brain functions and how thought takes place and how memory is created. We still have no clue how conciousness is enabled or what makes us sentient. I find this all facinating; and in light of that found a certain podcast I listened to completely captivating. It was an interview of two gents who suffer from a rare disorder called "prosopagnosia". Prosopagnosia is more commonly known as facial blindness. People who have this, cannot recognise people by their faces. They may meet a person, talk to them for an hour, and 5 minutes later not recognise them at all. They may not regognise their loved ones, children, spouses, parents, or even their own reflection. Now what particularly facinated me about this interview was that one of the people being interviewed was a well known artist called Chuck Close. An artist! And get this. Chuck is famous for painting, you guessed it, portraits!
How does that work?!?
He paints what he doesn't really understand!
So I got to wondering, is his innability to emotionally connect with his subject what allows him to do it so freshly? A little, perhaps like the experiments one conducts in drawing something upsidedown ... how not recognising the object allows one to focus on the lines and dissociate emotionally, and therefore find yourself drawing more accurately, because you are not interpreting the subject.
I think Chuck is able to paint faces in a truely objective way, which gives him a unique take on the faces he paints. Now I'm not saying that emotional detachment makes for better art, but I do have to wonder what the exact impact of prosopagnosia is on his ability.
If you would like to listen to the podcast, you can hear it here. (I hope you find it as interesting as I did)
If you would like to see some of Chuck Close's art click here.