Eyes Wide Shut Vs Eyes Wide Open

I attended a talk from Frieder Nake, one of the early pioneers of computer art and a serious badass.

He said that great artists have large eyes, they have their eyes wide open, observing the world and use their eyes to gather and analyze data.

He went on to say this mental model is different for algorists and computer artists. Instead they have their eyes wide shut. They draw instructions and pictures in their minds, meditating on the outcome and then executing it in code.

As an artist who combines both painting and programming, I thought it was a succinct metaphor for the different creative mental processes - two sides of the same coin, opposites yet the same.

I would also add that physical painters also DO have an inner eye. That vivid direction and mental image is what guides the process - the degree to which you can describe it and adapt it to the changing situation denotes the caliber of your artistry, the mastery of your craft. If we focus our technology on guiding the process and not the product then these once abstract thoughts can be made physical, allowing for new ideas to emerge.

Similarly computer artists DO have an observational eye. It is just that much of the time they forsake it due to the disconnect between tool and final outcome and the inability to properly examine the virtual object. If we work to create tools that are immediate in feedback and interaction this adaptive observation can really start to blossom.

As the line between real and digital becomes blurred and new ways of creation are developed we will need to think more about the elements that comprise human creativity, how best to harness and amplify them and how to build a universal language for them.

The artist of the future will be able to have their eyes wide open and shut at the same time.