Reflecting today on the process of finding and adapting the images for my articles, I realized there’s something about the entire way I’m going about it that speaks to the essential nature of Feelingwork mapping.
For most of the images, I start with a photograph that speaks to me relative to the content of the article. I might go for the gist of the entire article or zoom in on one story or metaphor that seems pivotal. Then I apply some sort of artistic filter using a program called Filter Forge, to move the piece from the realm of the literal into something more like the altered space of mapping. Finally, I crop the image into a thin horizontal portion for the title bar of the piece, and a thin vertical portion for the main article section. (The vertical image works best on tablet or larger, but what I’m going to share is relevant either way.) So let’s look at how this relates to Feelingwork.
Let’s start with the slices. In each article, the image shows a thin horizontal slice and a thin vertical slice, but never the whole thing. It’s a lot like looking at the feeling mind through the lens of feeling maps. We’re seeing a portion of what is there. Never the whole thing at once. We seem incapable of holding more than a few feeling states in consciousness at any one time, but we can choose to “crop” the image of our feeling mind in many different ways, zooming in here or zooming out there, highlighting this portion or that.
Going further into it, as I said, I alter most of the images, altering a photograph (usually from Unsplash.com) and turning it into a more creative version of itself that looks more like a piece of art. Something of the original remains, but the image takes on a flavor that removes it a bit from that.
But we can take this another level deeper. It is also true that the photograph is not the reality it captured. The photograph is a record of a visual scene, not the scene. There was a pattern of light waves passing through a lens, and yes, those light waves had relationships with the people, objects, and landscapes depicted in the photo. But they were not the subjects themselves. Yet those relationships were unique to that scene, to that moment, to that camera. And those unique relationships of light waves to subjects found their way into the pattern of sensor activation that created the digital impression. When we look at the photograph, we can see that pattern of relationships going all the way back to the scene in front of the camera. We get something from it that retains the essential nature of that scene.
In a similar way, the image we capture through the Feelingwork mapping practice is not the feeling itself. Yet the relationships among the sensory parameter values capture something of the pattern of experience that is the feeling. There is an essential connection, one that makes the mapping practice “real” in the same way a photograph is a “real” representation of something in the world.
Would you like to go even deeper into the rabbit hole? Let’s give it a go!
The pattern of light waves passing through the camera lens was also passing through the lenses of the eyes of the photographer, falling onto the retinas, activating nerve signals going into that photographer’s brain. In that brain and all that comes with it was a convergence of endless threads of history, experience, original impulse, genetic imprinting, and all manner of things we can know nothing about. The emergent moment of the camera shutter’s click, the ensuing moments of curating the images of the day, of cropping and touching up, of choosing which images to offer the community, all of this was informed by a consciousness that extends beyond anything any of us can fully know, even the photographer herself.
The image in this post is by Annie Spratt, one of the Unsplash partners who lives in England. Here is the original image from Unsplash.
So much that was present in the moment this image was created did not find its way into the image. Even more, much that was in the image did not find its way into the cropped and modified images above. Yet what is there retains some ineffable imprint of its origins. So much is not there in the image, and yet all of that is also not not there. And what has arisen in the many departures from its origins is no less a part of the image’s “reality” than was the scene itself.
I guess what I’m reaching to say is, we’re touching mystery here. The connections between me and Annie Spratt, between her photo and this article, between the light on the tree and the algorithms of Filter Forge, and between all of these words and images and the similarly infinite convergence of influences in your own experience right now… well, this is life. Feelingwork mapping touches life through a unique portal, but it’s the same life touched by all of these everyday-numinous experiences.
We are swimming in an ocean of mystery. There is far more than we can ever know. Always.