Driven to abstraction / by Mario Mirabile

Our minds are very good at processing what we see. We can take in complex scenes with thousands of individual details and somehow make sense of it. The gestalt theories of visual perception were developed by German psychologists in the 1920s in an attempt to explain how people tend to organise visual elements into groups or a unified whole.

But sometimes, in perceiving the whole, we can miss the fascinating abstract detail to be found in the mundane objects which crowd our vision. Occasionally, I'll go out looking not at the big picture, but at the small. Moisture, plastic wrap and a bit of sun turns a pallet of bricks into art, a brief shower transforms a simple steel table, and blue sky reflected makes a cool counterpoint to warm geometric tiles. Even a stack of take-away coffee cups can confound observers if you get close enough. Seeking details like this helps me unclutter my mind and train my eye. It makes a calming change from trying to make sense of the world.