Reflection and sensibility


During her last years, artist Joan Eardley (1921-1963) painted seascapes at Catterline, a fishing village on Scotland’s coast. I especially like her The Wave (1961), Seascape (Foam and Sky, 1962), and Summer Sea (1962). What intrigues are the recurring smudges of light and cloud—center or just off center, at or above the horizon. (In other paintings, her glimmers are recognizably moon, sun, blue sky, or sea-spray.)

Four examples give an idea of what I’m talking about (mindful here of the variable quality of digital reproductions):

Summer Sea
A Stormy Sea No. 1
The Wave
Seascape (Foam and Blue Sky)

My eye locks on the rush and scatter of waves, but I’m distracted by those lit clouds above.

I end up thinking about the smudges and glimmers, where the thinking is itself a distraction—in this case the distraction of leaving the painting too early. I return and the clouds are luminous and I wonder, what kinds of reflections do they cast on the seascape below, or on me, out of sight?


This version of a sensibility is more like the matrix of conscious connections that would not have otherwise been made were it not for the distraction and an attentiveness to that distraction.


Let’s see if we agree and can push the point further.

Below are links to three brief performances. The clips show performers and music taking place on stages of sort, with sorts of instruments. I wager you’ve not seen the clips before or imagined something like them in this sequence.

I’ve chosen them because the individual pieces seem to reflect–and reflect on–one another, e.g,, Kyung Namchul’s fingers moving across the strings parallel the hands and feet of Denis Matvienko and Leonid Sarafanov moving across the floor parallel Lin Yi’s fan and body flicking together.

(As above, I claim no copyright privilege over the below.)

The sequence serves as one intertext: Sarafanov plucks floor and air, Kyung flicks the strings, Lin Yi dances the fan. Each is inscribed onto the music. Each illuminates the other, and each-together reflects back onto me, its out-of-sight viewer.

That sensitivity feels very much like a sensibility to me, while cognitively the resonance is very much like reflection. Refracted through the brain-prism, it is difficult to tell if what’s written is “live” or “love,” “hype” or “hope,” “could” or “would.”

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