The intelligent eye (2)

In The Intelligent Eye, David Perkins devotes individual chapters to each of the thinking dispositions mentioned in the blog entry yesterday. In dealing with each disposition, Perkins adopts the same approach of first explaining how to look and think about art and then moving on to the art of thinking.

Perkins’s first suggestion is that we give looking time. He warns us against Impressionism – not that of the artists but the audience’s natural impulse of hastiness. Instead of cruising past the wall and grading the artwork, he suggests that we slow looking down in order to find out what awaits and what hides in the works of art. Perkins emphasizes that this is not to push experiential intelligence to one side but to buy time for it to produce insights for many minutes. Persistence and patience are the most important ingredients. A few rules of thumb are given:
  • Position yourself.
  • Resolve to look for a good while.
  • Let your eyes work for you.
  • Let questions emerge.
  • Let what you know inform your looking.
  • Tell yourself when you notice interesting features.
  • When the flow stops, look away for a few seconds, then look back.

Perkins then talks about how to cultivate this disposition to refine the art of thinking:
  • Give thinking time.
  • Cultivate through culture – create a culture that honours thinking time; do not sweep complex matters under the rug of hasty resolutions.
  • It’s an attitude, a commitment.

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