How to See with Artistic Eyes

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
Winsights No. 16 (20 July 1997)

What follows goes far beyond art appreciation, to enrich the raw stuff of perception per se. It is a really great way to create a “high” experience, one of the more enjoyable of your life.

You can enhance this highly repeatable experience even further on special occasions with a temporary boost effect via simple nutrition. For that temporary boost effect before an intended main enrichment experience, just as you would before an important sports competition, you might wish to nourish your organs of perception with Vitamin A or beta carotene, the nucleic acids RNA/DNA, and/or brewers nutritional yeast. Heavy foods, alcohol or artificial substances just prior to a main perceptual enrichment experience would impede the highest qualities of perception even though the following protocols (behavior recipes) may be strong enough to carry past such hindrances.

1. Flick-Gazing

[For here now and at the art museum later.] Simple way to counter neuronal habituation which, to a greater or lesser degree, normally deadens everyone’s senses. Nerves, circuitry and the brain itself go to sleep on a constant signal, awaken on a changing signal. Arousing the sensory nervous system by rapid change of stimulus (as in sequential rapid montages) lets you perceive with far more aliveness.

Training plan, phase one: the “flick-gazing” exercise conducted here, by yourself or, preferably, in a group. [Originally published in my book, How To Increase Your Intelligence.] See if, by looking at a different face or different feature of this room every half second or so for 3 to 5 minutes, you don’t awaken your vision to see nearly as much of what you were looking at during that half second as you normally would by staring at it. The importance of vision–80% of the area of the brain is involved in visual response. This simple flick-gazing trains that much of your brain to handle more information far more quickly. If that increases intelligence, then make the most of it!

Training plan, phase two: (Here, now, on a walk through the landscape or streetscape just outdoors; the Art Museum later). While here, alone with a tape recorder or preferably with a live partner or so: pick at least one, preferably two partners from here who will also be going over to the museum. Here, describe in detail what you encounter, to tape recorder and/or live partner(s). (Teachers: this is also a great thing to do for your classes, especially before any field trip, not just visits to an art museum!) At the museum, each of you together (a) remind each other to flick-gaze at the works around you on exhibit; (b) do so yourself; (c) immediately from flick-gazing, orient on one or two especially outstanding works to examine with awakened eyes, pointing out and describing in detail to each other all the features which to you are so special about that work.

“Brainstorming” rule of Description: if it occurs to you in the context, go ahead and say it. Keep on finding all the fresh things to say about it which somehow further describe it.

Note: this descriptive phase should run 10-20 minutes, and reach a point where it becomes a real challenge to convey through your language the effects you are describing. The more you have to “reach” to effectively describe such effects, the greater your gains in your own powers of language, observation, and intellect!

Further note: working with partners as urged here, will let you master the techniques to such an extent that you not only transform the special experience tonight at the museum but then are able forever after to use these ways on your own to enrich your life whenever you are in a beautiful setting, artistic or natural. If you opt not to work with partners tonight, you may or may not have enough of any of the techniques to be useful to you.

2. Cleansing the Windows of Perception

Using a breathing meditation to clarify, among other things, vision. Preferred: that form of the psychegenic “Calm-Breathing Patterns” known as “Noise-Removal Breathing,” originally published in Beyond O.K.

Phase One: group training here in this breathing pattern.

In brief: With each slow breath, breathe in as if you were breathing in from below and from behind. Breathe in as if you were breathing in all the way up from the very bottoms of your feet, while releasing each breath luxuriously out through normal channels. Luxuriate also with the feeling of as-if your breathing were coming in and working its way through all the tissues and cells of your feet, ankles, legs and lower body up to where you release and profoundly let go through normal channels. Make each next breath feel more luxurious than the previous slow breath; manage to let go still more with each next slow breath out than with the previous breath out. Like the wind swirling around corners of buildings, swirling up debris and dry leaves and carrying them away, let your incoming breath seem to be swirling through all your tissues and cells of your feet, of your ankles, of your lower legs, swirling through all the nooks and crannies and swirling up and away whatever didn’t belong there – all tensions, toxins, tiredness like those dried leaves. Let these release in your outgoing breath, as they hit the open air let them release into hot bright sparks of fresh new life energy. See how much of the tiredness or other stuff, other “noise” that didn’t belong, you can sweep up and away out of various parts of your body and turn into those hot bright sparks of fresh new life energy….

…..Make this into a well-practiced, very good feeling, meditation, 5-20 minutes at a time. See if you can get in at least 3 rounds of such practice before you go to that art museum experience….

…. Fix your gaze upon some feature of the room or landscape across from you, or later at the museum upon some work of art… Sweep your incoming breath through that space between you and what you are gazing at, sweeping up and away whatever had been between you and fuller, richer perception of what you are gazing at…..

Phase Two: with your previously selected partner(s), at the Museum, using the Noise-Removal Breathing to intensify/ clarify perception of select works of art, comparing notes in detail with your partner(s) as to what this breathing brings into view for you about that particular work of art.

3. Seeing Through And With The Eyes of the Artist

Experience “putting on the head” of some artist to “become” that artist. First, here, experience an imaginary garden landscape, describing to your partner(s) every detail. Then bring in the artist, describe her or him or it, to live partner or to your tape recorder. Imagine putting on the head of that artist, as concretely as you can. Waft forward into that imagined artist, bring your eyes to where the eyes are of this artist so you are looking through and with those artist’s eyes. Bring your ears and other senses to where those of the imagined artist’s are, so you are listening and sensing through and with those of the artist. Use her or his senses and sensibilities to look around at this same garden landscape and amazedly detail what the artist is seeing that you hadn’t noticed before you became that artist. Then and only then go through some of the experience of that artist creating his/her art.

At the Museum: with your partner(s) (or pocket tape recorder), view select works of art first with objective (your own) eyes; then put on the head and eyes of that work’s artist, richly describing in detail to one-another the resulting changes in perception of the painting or sculpture.

Note: this “putting on the head of the artist” is also used to actually and rapidly learn the skills of the artist, and can be used to accelerate and enrich the learning of virtually any subject or skill. It is a form of “Periscopic Learning” or “High Leverage Learning” as trained in detail in the book Beyond Teaching And Learning. In turn, this type of learning method is only one of a dozen major types of accelerated/enhanced learning method now in world use. Some types, as does “Periscopic Learning,” feature use of forty or more specific individual methods and techniques, each of which conveys years of learning or sophistication within hours of practice. The first mention in the literature of periscopic-type learning as an accelerated learning procedure was Schroeder and Ostrander’s early report on art classes (and later music) conducted by Russian hypnotist Vladimir Raikov.

4. Tuning into the Infinite Aesthetic Hologram

(Whimsically, this may also be referred to as “tuning into the G.H.P.B.S. network broadcast”–the Galactic Holomindartcast Public Broadcasting Service!)

Here: learn to Image Stream, as per previous Winsights entries.

At the end of the Museum experience or immediately thereafter, while you are still with one or both partners: Let your arts-stimulated image streaming faculties show you their art gallery. While you describe back and forth with your partners, let your “Arts Channel” Image Stream show you works of art possibly even more beautiful than those you have been viewing at the Museum.

This “Arts Channel” happens spontaneously anyway if you do some practice in Image Streaming, and the arts reward is so strong we don’t try to interpret the meaning of the images in that channel — we just detail and enjoy the beauty. You may be astonished at how intensely your beauty-perceiving faculties may be activated.

These 4 protocols are yours to enjoy and, if you so choose, to share with co-explorers and people whom you care about, even to teach. It is a way to enrich without significant cost, not only the experience of art and beauty, but life generally.

Note: Not only the arts themselves, but the act of art criticism and music criticism, by expressively working together widely separate regions of the brain working together, may cumulatively integrate phase relationships between those regions of the brain and so build intelligence — see our descriptions, in “Winsights” and elsewhere, of brain-based “Pole-Bridging.” —So detail those descriptions!

Amended for this “Winsights” column, these 4 protocols were developed by Project Renaissance specifically for the Arts Themebase of the 1994 Creative Problem Solving Institute, for educative purposes. Copyright 1994, 1997, by Win Wenger, Ph.D. However, this paper may be freely reproduced (in whole, including this copyright notice, but not in part) to share with people whom you care about. Enjoy!