What you see is what you don’t get: The blind painter – Esref Armagan

What you see is what you don’t get: The blind painter – Esref Armagan

Turkish artist Esref Armagan has a genetic mutation that caused him to be born without eyes. This seeming defect has given him the most remarkable power. “Noone can call me blind. I can see more with my fingers than sighted people can see with their eyes”. While he paints a landscape, he cannot see and has never seen light.

This artist is changing everything science has assumed about vision. What scientists find astounding about his paintings, is his use of colour, shadow, composition and most importanly; perspective. The way he draws objects receeding into the distance has mystified scientists. Its the way he deals with 3 dimensional space that has got them particularly excited. When scientists scanned the activity of his brain when he draws, they discovered that visual regions of his brain that shouldn’t have any activity due to his blindness, reacted and lit up dynamically whenever Esref was painting perspective. The scan proved that vision involves more than what is brought in through our eyes. Vision also involves our ability to understand space. Up until now, we have misunderstood vision.

In an ambitious experiment to see if Esref truly understands perspective, perception psychologist Dr John Kennedy from the University of Toronto asked Esref to draw a particular bulding in Florence, Italy designed by the most important architect of the renaissance, Filippo Brunelleschi. This building was the source and origin of the discovery of persepective as it unveiled the equation of perspective to the architect in 1413. The complex geometry of the building makes it extremely difficult to draw, even if you can see. As Esref sat in front of the building with no prior clues about the building or what he’d be asked to do, he was given a carboard 3d model of the building which he felt with his hands. As he drew the building, he set his place in history by outdoing Filipo Brunelleschi, a renaissance master. This man proves that you don’t need eyes to see.

I hope that puts your idea of vision in a different perspective.

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