Submission No. 23

(Yes, Tom, the whole website. — Miriam)

So you have sent me a link, simply the link itself in the stripped-down courier font of this edit post mode — and told me to riff on it. So I go to the link, the site, and I see images of patterns, as expected. I see shopping carts and chain-links, fashion photographs of men’s jackets, leopard-patterened shawls and leopard-patterned sting rays, modern glass office buildings and clouds in the sky.

The site is devoted to finding patterns and sharing them.

My starting point for this riff: why?

Why should a website share patterns?

One reason that occurs to me is that anytime we narrow the scope of our attention — as in writing a sonnet, or playing hopscotch, or singing in contra tenor — we heighten our awareness of details. This site’s single focus on “patternity” likewise gets us to see — and share with the creator(s?) of the site — an appreciation for the details of each image: the slightly insecure model in the criss-cross men’s jacket, the hunger for spareness of the architect who designed the vertical lines of the glass office building, the hunting techniques of the sting ray, etc. Another is that our brains deliver a jolt of pleasure to us when we recognize a pattern — and it is fun to share pleasure with others. The pattern-recognition part of our brains is very likely a result of our need to see similar occurrences in nature, in order to survive. One rustling branch can be ignored. Three rustling branches just may signal an imminent ambush: notice them. There is a satisfaction in getting it right.

But the reason for a website sharing patterns that strikes me as the most interesting is that looking at patterns, I suspect, may increase our sophistication at filtering. And, if you think about it, filtering may be the most important skill set that anyone can have these days. Facing a daily glut of information — by phone, computer, TV, movies, written word, faces, signage, etc. — we need to decide what connects up, what counts, on a moment-by-moment basis. Patterns, which are something like a visual representation of correlation, are surely more important than ever.

Does art follow social change? Does it track our needs as well as our pleasures? Did people in the post-war era, for example, need, abstract expressionism to train their brains? Do we need highly patterned art now?

What else do you think you need visually these days?

About Tom Clyde

The best place to learn about me is to read my riffs. What could be more revealing? Cheeky, maybe, but true enough.

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