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Sehen lernen (German to English: learning how to see) is my ongoing project designating all that I draw. I will now open up an argument as to whether there is even something to learn and how seeing and drawing hang together. 


I find drawing as essential to painting as grammar to language. Never the type to simply "pick up" a language, I have always needed (and wanted) to learn a language's grammar, its underlying structure. Once I know how the grammar works, I can link words freely and create texts that are correct in terms of grammar. I can wilfully break the rules and, thereby, make language more poetic or distort it if consciously wanted. 

Drawing, to me, unveils the underlying structure of what I depict. Drawing is an inquiry into the logic and structure of a piece of space-time reality that I translate into NEUEREALITAET through the process of drawing. It gives me some safety and orientation because NEUEREALITAET is a wild place. Anything can happen. Literally, anything. The unimaginable matter-realises at a lightning speed and I could get lost, lost in the rabbit hole, unless I know the rules of the game. (Would it be a bad thing to get lost?) Knowing the rules of the game, while knowing that those rules are no ultimate truths but perceived patterns, is enough and functional. Establishing that the structure I perceive and decide to draw is a situated de-cision in the space-time of reality (for more on this interpretation of a de-cision please refer to McCormack, D. P., & Schwanen, T., 2011. Guest editorial: The space—Times of decision making. Environment and Planning A, 43(12), 2801-2818.). Drawing as de-cision making is, in my mind, thus also a necessity. It is a situated interpretation of the seen. 

However, this perspective raises some questions as to whether such structure actually exists and to what extent it is constructed or arbitrarily patterned. Structure is what my brain recognises as such. From that view, the question of whether structure "exists" becomes obsolete: I recognise a pattern that I deem sufficiently satisfying to be recognised as such. 

Whether this interpretation is successful, depends to how well I can imitate a perceived structure measured against what I have perceived in the past or how easy it is to see a logical structure and perpetuate it at first sight (which is, again, an arbitrary statement). Luckily, the brain of the observer is my playmate. Does the structure I show tell the observer's brain the same as the actual object? Does it say: "scissors", "hands", "water droplet", etc. when it looks at drawings of those instances the same way it says "scissors", "hands", "water droplet", when the observer sees the actual instances? But I am even hesitating to use the word "actual". Because - what is the actuality of such an instance? It is a materialisation of an idea - that is true for scissors, is it true for the water droplet? Once we see scissors, we immediately think scissors. Unless we have never seen them before. In that case, we do not know what to think. We might refer to something perceived as similar...


Was there an idea of a water droplet before the water droplet? Thought by whom? It depends of the type of water droplet, one could say, but let's assume it is not a droplet that was purposefully created by someone from a spray bottle. How about the droplets you splash when washing the dishes? You certainly know they will materialise, but is that enough to have them as a materialisation of an idea? Then: What about the rain water droplets? The ultimate question is here whether there is always a consciousness thinking the instance before it exists or not. Maybe this is irrelevant. Maybe it can also be a thought after it exists. And is it even worth talking about a before and after? In the case of scissors, yes, but the lines blur more and more the more we approach rain water droplets with this strand of thought. Does it even matter whether the thing has been thought before it materialises or not? Or, again, this is a little argument loop, is there a before and after in through or more like a mutuality, a co-creation, because the density or form of existence of any idea is always a form, just that some thoughts come in the form of a scissors materialised, others in the form of a mental image, electric signals, and what difference is there then to a scissor, metal, atom, electron, which, in turn, are also mental images, attempts at understanding a supposed underlying structure? In any case, the brain of the observer remains my playmate in NEUEREALITAET. 

If the recognition of a structure is the subjective and arbitrary-until-satisfying/convincing-the-observer process described above, is it even necessary to learn a supposed structure? Would it make more sense to paint arbitrarily from the start, without the intersection of a structure? One resort would be to paint the energy, the vibe of what I seek to translate into NEUEREALITAET. Maybe it is possible to depict the energy of scissors directly rather than the lines that resemble scissors. But what if the energy of scissors comes only in the form of scissors? 

Tracing the perceived structure, the logic, the rules of an instance of observed space-time gives me the feeling I "understand" it. That means, I "know what it does": I can perpetuate the structure, draw something freely once I learned its logic without referring to the "actual" thing. This implies that I believe there is some sort of structure-essence to every instance, something that can be understood. I can draw something that says "face", "scissors", "massage ball", without the actual thing drawn from my eyes while drawing it. The prerequisite alone is a mental image of the thing that I draw from. Drawing is helpful in creating those mental images.

In archaeological sites, illustrators are at work. Their precise inquiry into the found objects reveals details a photograph might overlook. It is an inquiry into the object, what it does, how it behaves, what it looks like. It is getting to know the object. Yet, there can be more to it: Touching it, smelling it, hearing the sound of fingers rubbing over its surface. Tasting it, even. The drawing can only reveal as much. But if done convincingly, the observer's consciousness conspires again and might produce ideas of those sensory impressions along. 

So, what I learn in drawing is to imitate a perceived structure in such a way that at least my visual perception of the drawing becomes satisfying in the sense that looking at the drawing evokes the same recognition in me as when looking at the actual instance drawn, or so convincing that an imagined instance evokes a sense of recognition as-if-it-was-real. You know, luckily, there is NEUEREALITAET. Because as we have seen, this argument has only been possible in a binary world where everything is not at the same level. Actual scissors, the ideas of scissors before and after seeing them, the energy of scissors, all of these collapse into one plane - no before/after, no actual/imagined scissors, just embracing the continuous co-creation of the creator, the observer and the created, the observed, but even this separation blurs in NEUEREALITAET. In any case, I still draw, it is like learning the grammar of the language of NEUEREALITAET which allows me to translate everything into NEUEREALITAET. 

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