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Beautiful and Banal
Exploring the How and What of Seeing

As newborns we aren’t very good at seeing the world around us. It takes a few months before a baby’s eyes and brain can deal with all of the visual stimuli it encounters. Of course having good eye sight is one thing, learning how to see is something completely different.

Every day countless items pass in front of our eyes. Some we take notice of because they are rare or beautiful or unexpected. Others we ignore completely because they are too mundane or because we aren’t supposed to think of them as noteworthy. What and how we see our world is a reflection of our culture, instincts, and personality. These influences have a strong impact on how we see the world, and they direct and define our ideas about what is and what isn’t beautiful. This restriction can lock us into a specific way of experiencing life.

Realizing that our view of the objects around us could be at least partly decided by forces out of our control brings up a very interesting question: Can we change how we look at things? We can travel to new places, try unfamiliar food, and immerse ourselves in different languages and cultures. We can adopt new ideas and seek out novel experiences. We know we can do these things, but can we decide to alter the way we look at the familiar and ordinary parts of our daily lives?

What if we can chose a different way of seeing? What if we decided to re-see the things that we usually take for granted? What if we looked objects we find beautiful in a different way? What would happen if we decided to look at the world as if we had never seen it before and tried to find our own way of seeing?

Over the past few years I have made the choice to try and find my own way of seeing. I have tried to explore the things we see every day in different ways. I would take notice of my cultural habits to ignore inconsequential things so I could see, and then re-see, what was in front of my eyes. I found that the world, even my little part of it, was much more complex and fascinating than I had realized before. My bathroom, my kitchen, the sidewalk outside my home, all of these became unique travel destinations for me. I discovered I had been missing out on a lot of beautiful and intriguing things that had been all around me every day. My world became much more interesting and the things in it more valuable to me. The photos in this exhibit are some of the results of this visual exploration. They feature subjects that are both banal and beautiful, but presented in ways that blur the lines between them. I hope they can inspire you to see the things around you, the world around you, and even the people around you in a new way.