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category: Art Lab

Naming is Seeing | Seeing is Forgetting

Posted 26 March 2011 by Ellen McMahon

A video by Ellen McMahon

Ellen McMahon

As a participant in Art Lab: Border Biosphere Explorations, I spent a few days at El Coronado Ranch in the Chiricahua Mountains. Surrounded by hundreds of acres of grasslands restored by Cuenca Los Ojos Foundation, I began to learn the identifying characteristics and names of some of Arizona’s native grasses. This new knowledge transformed the field of grass in which I stood into a field of several kinds of grasses then into a field of Green sprangletop, Buffalograss Feather fingergrass, Plains lovegrass, Hall’s panicgrass, Poverty threeawn, Blue grama and many others. Looking closely enough to tell them apart, I saw these individual species of grasses for the first time.

During the residency I happened to be reading Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, a book by Lawrence Weschler about the artist, Robert Irwin. The paradox between my reading and my experience resulted in “Naming is Seeing | Seeing is Forgetting” a video about how naming and categorizing both sharpens and limits our perceptions of the world, whether we’re seeing as artists or scientists.

list comments:

One Opinion has been expressed on “Naming is Seeing | Seeing is Forgetting”

  1. John Newman commented:

    Well done and well said. Very cool indeed.
    John

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