Today my brain has been bombarded with words, the same words we’ve heard for the past seven weeks. Words like “amid” and “crisis” and “cancelled”. And now, it’s 2.39am and I am restless. This could be for many reasons, but I’ve decided that it’s because my eyes haven’t consumed their usual amount of good images.
Yes, I’ve gazed out of the window, stared at the TV, I’ve looked through the bars of my cell while rattling my cup along them. But I think, much like other body parts get hungry, horny, haggard, our eyes also hanker. They hanker for stimulation, for beauty, for interest. They yearn for more than the 21 walls of my flat can give them (yes, I counted).
Much like other body parts get hungry, horny, haggard, our eyes also hanker
Your imagination can do a lot, and reading scripts allows you to imagine. However, I put it to the consistently empty room that if imagination is a fire, it needs all three elements: the story is the fuel, your mind is the heat, and inspiration is the oxygen.
And yes, maybe you’re not all just scrolling the news cycle and Twitter. Maybe you’re actually writing King Lear while learning a language and getting to sleep at a reasonable hour, but if you’re not, may I suggest a middle ground somewhere between being productive and paralysis?
That middle ground is about consuming. Right now I’m consuming Yayoi Kusama, Frida Kahlo, Kerry James Marshall, Alphonse Mucha, Francisco Goya, Lisa Hanawalt and Polly Nor, and my eyes have just started to feel satisfied.
It might sound shallow to place so much importance on screen images. But they’re all by artists whose work has inspired my work. Like a lot of us, I usually get to discover these people and images through research for shows. But I don’t have anything to research right now, so I have to satisfy my visual cravings all on my own.
There’s also lots of exciting and gorgeous movies and television, and I could go on with that list of artists, but that sort of defeats the point. Instead, think of this as Marie Kondo for your eyeballs.
Have you got all the information you can and need from the scrolling news cycle? Is staring at a blank page, willing the great American novel to appear, bringing your eyes joy? Do you need something that will?
Because it all stays in there forever, I promise. To broaden your vocabulary, you read, and a visual language needs the same exercises to expand the mind.
I also subscribe three doses of Pinterest, to supplement your eyeballs’ five-a-day. Don’t force yourself down the crafting guilt-trip that rears its ugly head on there, just think of an artist, photographer or designer that you like.
I’m encouraging myself as much as you to walk around the vast art gallery of the internet. Click and click and know that just by looking you are filling what is missing, and you are pumping oxygen on to a dormant but powerful fire.