Visual triggers

March 21, 2008
Robert Genn

After my last letter "Grabbing the heart," about people making
their minds up in the blink of an eye, artists wrote to add
their own take on "unusually satisfying pattern." We've
included some of these in the current clickback. See URL below.
Many also wanted to know some of the other visual triggers on
my list. Here are four:

Precious colour
Gradations big and small
Something personal
Something mysterious

Precious colour is only precious when it's set off by neutral
tones, mainly greys. Straight-from-the-tube garish colour
doesn't always cut it--colour needs absence of colour nearby to
be truly delicious.

Gradations provide an interactive dimensional flip that teases
the brain. Blends play with the sensibility of ordinary things
and twist the mind to see art rather than either reality or
artless play.

Something personal has to do with an artist's unique style--the
mannerist touch an artist gives his work. This trigger works
for those who have prior knowledge of an artist's style. Naming
and labelling is basic to human nature--instant labelling is
highly satisfying.

Something mysterious activates our sense of illusion and magic.
To tell all is the key to yawns. Illusory art excites. To
enable this trigger, an artist needs to stifle the natural
tendency to fully disclose and describe. People suspend
judgment in the presence of mystery.

The emotional brain readily and positively reads these and
other indicators as they briefly but tenderly touch neural
pleasure-points. There are other stimuli that quickly ring the
neural bells. For example, some folks need to see detail,
drama, romance or sentimentality. At the same time, others
close their minds to bravura, style, non-objectivity or even
certain subject matter. In the arts, as in commodity selection,
decision making is a perverse combination of clear emotion and
intellectual filtration. Accessing the mind at an emotional
level happens in a blink of an eye and is a key to a warm glow
that motivates.

Best regards,


PS: "There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly
clear." (Buffalo Springfield)

Esoterica: Regarding "Unusually satisfying pattern," this
important trigger involves building a structure on which more
mundane visual motifs play. No matter what the subject matter
or lack thereof, curves, lost-and-found lines, checkerboards,
lineups, offsets, counterpoints, gestalt-bleeds, spottisms,
patches and activation make surfaces interesting to the
emotional mind. Artists who understand this are better able to
encourage viewers to linger. For some among us it's automatic
and intuitive, for others it's something to learn.