Erica Jordán MFA

Master-Thesis: "Visual Perception and Identity. Pareidolia: Chance and Intention"

Supervision: Prof. Theo Smeets, Prof. Ute Eitzenhöfer

"I have always found graphic representation fascinating in its most varied formats and my work often include it. How the public reacted to my early works made me ask myself questions like “what makes us interpret in one way or another a graphic representation?; Why there are more talented people than others when it comes to visualizing forms in an abstract stimulus such as in clouds or in the inclusions of a stone?; Can our identity influences our visual perception?; Or can our visual experience determine our personality?

Until today, what I know is that we will always have problems to agree with the artistic representations, there will be millions of different interpretations according to the eye of who looks at it, the context in which we place ourselves or the personal history that we carry with us. This is called visual perception. In the development of my work I’ve explored this concept and how experience and knowledge influence us in a relevant way because visual perception does not only depend on the eye, it goes much further. From the earliest age our visual experience begins to form and together with it our personality. A long time ago, one of my teachers in Art School related visual experience with a backpack, the more it fills it with all kinds of experiences, the more material we will have when it comes to interpreting and creating. Each backpack is personal and non-transferable, we will be able to coincide with some stored elements but perhaps we will not use them in the same way. This backpack not only fits images, but also lived experiences, emotions, our social and family context ... in short, our identity.

I create graphic images in my pieces but the perception you will have of them will not depend exclusively on the stimulus I try to transmit to you. You can look at my work and see a different image than the one I wanted to interpret or the one someone else is seeing. This can be due to your emotional state in this moment, to the pattern of your ocular movements, to the aspects to which you give priority, to the acuity or practice of your visual systems… None of this is present in my work in a physical way, but depends on your current state, as well as your own history. Where you see simple spots others can see an insect, a landscape or a face... Faces fascinate me completely. Faces play an important role in my work as well as in our lives. They are our primary means of identification. They are the representation of the person. They are the reflection of our emotions. Perception of faces is an essential element for social cognition, but talking in a grapich representation, I think that we need something else, we need an interaction. We need that portrait, that face carved in a stone, to go from being a simple face to an individual face and for that the viewer needs to create a story around. Occasionally a verbal instruction in the title’s work is enough to influence this perception, other times an "Untitled" gets wonderful stories. 

Sometimes, some visual references of our great collection escapes from our backpack and makes us recognize known forms where there are none, like for example a face in a cloud, in a wall, in a stone… this phenomenon is called pareidolia. It is an ability of our visual intelligence. It’s a tool of creativity, the starting point for a wonderful search for figures and shapes that will appear thanks to our visual experiencie and our need for identification and visual recognition. It’s a fascinating phenomenon that I have experienced in my recent work. Random breaks, randomly arranged materials or the very inclusions of the stones can give rise to wonderful representations that are probably not the same for you as for me, because pareidolia invites us to reflect on what visual form is and on how mental images are produced in the processes of perception and recognition; it allows us to observe how our mind can make connections; it is a clear evidence of our enormous creative potential. It is also chance and intention. Nature gives us chance and we take the intention out of our beloved backpack. This is how you can transform my random form into a recognizable, familiar and personal form...that can even reflect your own identity."

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