Pareidolia, a blog post by Neleisha Weerasinghe.

Inanimate Objects Taking a Life of their Own

Have you ever seen faces or animals on walls or even on inanimate objects? Do you have creative ideas popping off the walls? People tend to see faces a lot because we are programmed that way to identify each other and we are face to face with people every day, so there is a high likely hood of you seeing a face on a cloud or even on a rough surface that has shadows on it. Though many would really not think too much about it, creative’s on the other hand tend to give these visuals second thoughts. If you are one such person, then chances are you are experiencing physiological phenomena called pareidolia.

It is not a new concept as it has been around for centuries, however coming across a scientific term and a definition for such a condition is fascinating. It is said that Leonardo da Vinci was known to have this visual ability and even used it to great effect in his work. He has apparently even written about it in his books. According to Wikipedia, his notes even encourage artists and other creative’s to use this visual ability to create imaginary landscapes or even interesting compositions. According to an article published in the National geographic Magazine*, there are even scientific studies being conducted to determine why our brains create this imagery. Whatever the reason may be it is a phenomenon that is gaining interest and one which you can use for your benefit in daily life and even in your creative careers. Let’s see how we can make use of this phenomenon in our creative live.

Fight artist’s block

Like all creative’s, artists too go through unproductive dull phases where nothing creative seems to come forth. So in such instances one can easily do several things. Some do exercises or mediation while others engage in some other form of activity. If you have experienced this phenomenon, why not give it a go and try look at your surroundings with the express intention of simply looking. Being mindful and changing your scenery by going for a walk or simply looking at some clouds floating by can really help you with your imagination and creative process.

Being mindful

We are often constantly in a rush and sometimes we get so caught up in doing things, that we seldom enjoy or have time to be in the moment. As artists or creative’s we need time to pause, to reflect and most importantly actually see our surroundings. One needs to be part and parcel of their surroundings to be truly creative and expressive. Pareidolia therefore truly helps us in making us be mindful. So to let it work for you, you need to de clutter your mind and just be still. Which I believe needs practice and patience.

A creative exercise

So if you want to give it a go when you see something interesting in the clouds or on a rough wall, just draw it as it is then turn the paper around or look at it from a different angle. You might see completely new landscapes or even imaginary creatures. There might be shapes that you can re define and create meaningful images. If you are on the move, and you spot something interesting it is worth taking a photo of it and zoom in and out several times which might show different shapes and patterns. Often you can even show the image to a friend or a neighbour and ask what they see; you might be surprised with the answers.

So the next time you go in to a day dream phase or simple look at clouds floating by, don’t forget to jot down what you see.