When random sound moves to even a hint of rhythm, instinctively human ears take note to listen more carefully. Patterns alert curiosity, giving clues as to some kind of intention. Imagine being in a deep woods when a distant tapping becomes metered. Anyone might begin to wonder “what is happening here that I maybe need to catch?” Is someone trying to send a signal? Is there some kind of purposeful activity going on up ahead?
Patterns in visual work bring a similar alertness. Our eyes look for the connections, for any relationships that reveal the pattern-maker’s idea. Sometimes even just the suggestion of intention is enough to sharpen the observer’s gaze.
Pattern is inherently interesting. It is curious while also even calming, especially in the midst of much else that appears random. But it is also mysterious and that is maybe also some of the draw.
I think some of our heightened interest is because pattern indicates some kind of promise behind the hints. Pattern then is like a veil that allures, that brings close while leaving us with more that needs investigation.
To observe pattern quite simply necessitates the expectation of more. And this I think is founded (wether we admit to this or not) in some expectation that there must be a pattern maker behind that veil. Crumbs are not left on a path unless there has been bread that has already been broken.
To glimpse the pattern and run without giving time to consider the character and intentions of the pattern maker is a sort of consumerist robbery. It is a grabbing of the gift without considering where it came from or why. One needs to take time and consideration when noting the crumbs and any other signs on the ground. One takes time looking at art because it is presupposed that someone made it with purpose. When observing the veins in a leaf, when listening to a sonata, the senses focus to understand. All of these things and many more quietly inform the observer.
Rhythms indicate a plan and a process. And process takes a measure of time.
We are hardwired, I think, to hunger after a sense of intention underneath the veil. The restfulness of this little video I shot last month is a good example of what I am thinking about still today. I sat and just observed that morning. I made myself take time. Then the gentle ripples seemed to be coalescing in a very quiet, very unified dance right in front of me. It was as if I was being reminded, again, that what is underneath, and what is far above is at work. Constantly.