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Botanical Opticals and Other Repeating Patterns

How good are you at filtering out the noise?

How do you manage the unnecessary and annoying distractions that surround you everyday; the ones that pull at your strings or attempt to seduce you with a hundred different attention seeking behaviours?

How is it possible that any of us can stay even remotely sane when our real and virtual lives are constantly bombarded with too much information?

40 billion bits of information a second – that’s what our brains have to cope with.

40 billion sounds, smells, images, words and objects – it’s not surprising it needs a filter to sort the spam from the relevant.

Our brains have an amazing built-in filter that lets in the familiar and blocks anything it considers unnecessary. So if something already exists in your conscious or unconscious thoughts your brain operates its own ‘if you like this – you might also like this’ sort of function. This explains why it’s so easy to fall into lazy and familiar patterns of behaviour and why it can be so difficult to keep an open mind – and almost impossible to change someone else’s.

The algorithms used in social media are designed to re-enforce our own beliefs and world views and these are like an artificial (and cynical) version of the part of our brain called the Reticular Activating System. (RAS)

Because I’m a textile designer, not a neuroscientist, I don’t understand how this works. But I am fascinated by the way it works and how my own RAS signals to me when it thinks I should prick up my ears and take notice.

If you’re unfamiliar with the workings of your own RAS it manifests itself by showing you examples of the things that you’re already thinking about.

For instance; when you’re planning a new project and considering working with an exciting new colour and suddenly this colour appears everywhere you look making you wonder how you ever survived without ‘sludge green’ in your life.

Or maybe you’re thinking about going on holiday to Iceland, (lol, if only) and then you literally can’t go anywhere without bumping into a Viking in a Scandi knit.

This concept is discussed and interpreted in many different ways; some call it synchronicity others describe it as the power of attraction and believe it can be fine-tuned to help you manifest things into your life. (I’m currently focusing on Iceland)

If you’re familiar with my Hello Sunday Instagram posts or my Wallflowers project you’ll know that I love mirrored and kaleidoscopic patterns and happily waste invest hours of my life playing with my kaleidoscope app.

I see these patterns everywhere and I’m often curious about how things might look when viewed through this lens

So, when a chance encounter with the photographer and visual artist Tim Platt triggered my RAS as he passed me an invitation to his Botanical Opticals exhibition, I thought I might take a look.

The next evening I received this message, with a link to the same show,  from the other side of the world;

“This came to my attention recently. Thought you might enjoy. x”

 How many more signs did I need to tell me this was something I should see?

So I did. (Thank you Jodi)

The show was held at the Crypt Gallery – a small and beautiful exhibition space near Norwich Cathedral.

The room was wrapped in a series of colourful kaleidoscopic prints and each one drew me in like a mandala.

The images in Platt’s work originate from photographs of individual flowers manipulated into intriguing circular  patterns and the work boldly presents itself as unapologetically beautiful; a softly spoken antidote to the noise of so much self-referential and self-conscious contemporary art.

It’s not always easy to filter out the noise but these images present an opportunity for quiet contemplation; there’s no need to search for meaning and you don’t have to read the caption to understand it.

This is art to be gazed at and art to lose yourself in its ambiguities and visual complexities. Give yourself enough time and you’ll find your own associations in the micro and the macro; planets, whole universes, atomic structures, starbursts, snowflakes, celtic art, mandalas, the primal and the contemporary – it’s all there in an 85cm square print.

In a small partitioned section of the gallery a monitor was showing a hypnotic animation of these patterns. It was organic and rhythmical and I could have lost myself in it for hours. Like the best meditation practice everything around me dissolved away until the images filled my head and my consciousness.

I loved this show.

I loved it so much that one of the prints now hangs at the top of my stairs.

It reminds me multiple times a day that the things you think about most are the things you attract into your life.

For a mesmerising visual experience take a look at the  Botanical Opticals video over here: 



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Thanks for this, Sue. I love it. I am reminded of my attachment to nature’s gift to us in the form of fractals. I am also going to give myself a boost to the positive end of things by posting: “the things you think about the most are the things you attract into your life” on my bulletin board. No more attending to the news! Julie

    ps. My Wallflower blanket continues to be my most admired “object d’art.”

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