I had thought that I knew the work of Victor Pasmore. He had first come to public notice as a leading light in the Euston Road Group and had then fallen under the spell of Ben Nicholson and moved into abstractionism.
Later still he pioneered the growth ofConstructivism in this country; but what we found in that small gallery beside the River Thames was unlike anything I had seen of his before. It was exactly as it had said on the tin, visions (could there be any other word for them?) seen with the eyes tightly closed.
Much of it consisted of arrangements of lines, squiggles splashes and flat areas of
paint. A sort of minimalist Jackson Pollock, I thought at the time. The work had,
though, more impact and was more thought-provoking than I have made it sound. But what struck me in retrospect was how different were his visions in the dark than my own. At that time I would tend to see recognisable images. This I knew because I had made similar experiments, but as a writer, using the sights that arose behind the closed eyelids as stimuli for poems. Strangely enough, I had not thought to use them for any form of visual art.
I experimented and found that what I saw was influenced by a number of factors.
In roughly descending order of importance they are:
- The last image seen before closing the eyes.
- My thoughts.
- Ambient sounds.
- The movement (if any) of the eyeballs.
Sometimes the images evolved in response to continuing stimulus. What is the relationship between dreaming and this phenomenon, I wondered?
The image above and those below are the results - recreations by whatever method I thought would get nearest to the remembered image. Oh, for the technology to photograph the image that the brain sees!) These days I tend not to see recognisable objects, but more of that later perhaps, in part II, which will deal with writing - if I proceed that far.
I wonder if any research been done on what people see with the eyes closed? Do any of you knowledgeable folk out there know of any? Or has anyone a theory or observation to offer?