"To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees."

Paul Valéry
  (1871 to 1945)
  French poet, essayist, and philosopher

(This quote is also often associated with American artist Robert Irwin, whose biography by Lawrence Weschler is entitled, “Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees.”)

About the Project

Rorsketch is an art project where I draw my interpretations of ordinary objects.

The first part of the name comes from the Rorshach test, a psychological test in which people’s perceptions of inkblots are recorded and subsequently analyzed. While the Rorschach is used to examine a subject’s personality characteristics and emotional functioning, I intended for Rorsketch as a way for us to be mindful of the other thingsthe potentialthat we can see in ordinary objects.

This is a project of imagination. I use it as a reminder to myself that things are not always what they seem, and that the world is replete with possibility. Inspiration can be mined from anywhere, especially from things we often take for granted or ignore. Meditating upon these images has allowed me to go beyond what I see and to find joy in the quotidian.

This is also a project of perception. Seeing is different from interpreting. It is always worthwhile to take a second look. Consider that culture, upbringing, profession, and other factors affect human perception. The same cloud can mean different things to different people. If you see anything else other than what I’ve seen, please do let me know.

Clouds are a particular favorite of mine because they are untouchable ephemera that morph into different shapes, coalesce, separate, and disappear within a short span of time. Their forms may be abstract, but observing them for some time can trigger shapes that we can recognize. Whatever figures I imagine in them vanish as quickly as I see them; one formless mass can recall many familiar shapes. Through this project, I see clouds as agencies of serendipity. When I see clouds over land formations or man-made buildings, they add a dynamic quality to what I see.

On Metaphors and Collaborative Art

In case you were wondering, metaphors are a major preoccupation of mine. Also: asking strangers to draw what makes them happy.

Inspirations, Influences and References

Chema Madoz (one of my favorite photographers)
René Magritte and Salvador Dali (my favorite surrealists)
Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer (especially Chapter 5: The Process of Sight)
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…and Why by Richard Nisbett

About Me

I am a writer, artist, and interaction designer whose work primarily explores human perception and its relationships to creativity and play. I received my degree in molecular biology and biotechnology from Manila and fine art education from Barcelona. I was also a journalist for six years. As a poet, I have read her at the Poetry Brothel of Barcelona, as well as the BOWWOW poetry series at New York’s Bowery Poetry Club. My work combines the arts and the sciences to create stories, objects, and experiences that facilitate joy and human connection.

One of my projects, DrawHappy, where people draw their happiness, started as a simple exercise while on a trip to Iceland and has since received submissions from all over the world. I was most recently a Fulbright scholar who just received her MFA in Interaction Design from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

When I’m not making, I would be doing any of the following:
a) taekwondo
b) hip hop
c) taekwondo

Sketch Blog | Snickerdoodl.es
Writing Blog | The Perceptionalist

Catherine Young
August 2011
New York, NY


Rorsketch by Catherine Young is made available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, Share-alike license

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