Vantage point

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Imagine 3 people blind from birth. Their ages are 10, 30 and 50 respectively. Each of them is kept in a room which has white walls, a white floor and a white ceiling. They are all completely naked, bald and have just one black chalk. Now suppose their vision is miraculously restored with an instruction that they should start drawing on the walls using the black chalk.

What will they draw? What will be there in their visual memory that they will try to reproduce? Will the drawings be related to their age? How different will a 10 year old's drawings be from a 30 or 50 year old's, not in terms of the shapes or sizes, but in terms of the underlying meaning of those drawings?

When we draw, are we just reproducing stuff that we have seen? Or is it an expression of our innermost thoughts? Is that what separates great artists from normal artists? Normal artists replicate on canvas the beauty that they see around them. But great artists replicate on canvas the beauty within them. So would a great artists like, say, Picasso be just as great an artist if he had been blind until he was 40? Or did his ability to see contribute to his greatness? What is greatness in art anyway?

I wonder what the visual memory of a baby or a blind man would be like.