Monday, April 11, 2011

Do you see nouns or verbs?

A friend of mine recently posted to Twitter a picture of an object that his 19-month-old identified as "K".

That got me to thinking- clearly, she knows what a "K" is, but it doesn't exist in the "privileged class" of objects that we arbitrarily refer to as "letters". Hence, she was able to spot a "K" someplace an adult would never even look for one.

At her age, she still sees nouns everywhere she looks. That doorstop LOOKS like a "K" so she identified it as such. As adults, we live in a world of verbs. We look at that object and see a doorstop- which is to say, we see what it DOES rather than what it IS.

There's an important distinction there, for makers and artists especially. We tend to be so wrapped up in the verb form of the world that we forget the noun. My personal experience with this has also been that even when I succeed in considering an alternative solution to a problem, I STILL verb-ify my solution, artificially limiting my pool of potential objects to a small pool.

I'm trying to break out of this habit but it's a difficult thing to unlearn. I'm paying more attention to what my daughter does with the things she picks up, how she investigates them for the intrinsic properties of form rather than the extrinsic properties of their intended uses.

I'm also trying to challenge myself to come up with descriptions of things that I salvage, descriptions of form rather than function.

It feels like writing left-handed.