Perception is so Subjective   Leave a comment

Our farmer’s market moved this weekend. After something like 23 years in the same spot (back corner of a mall parking lot), they moved to the parking lot at the LightRail stop down the road. The corner of the mall parking lot was the very back corner, behind the compound for the Sears delivery vans, behind the Sears Auto Center, and with nothing near by. Since you have to walk past the delivery vans to get into the mall, no one parked there. It was a great big empty parking lot, but on Saturday mornings a little farmer’s market would sprout and bring life to the area. I’ve never counted how many slots the market had for vendors, but measured out in Google Earth it was 300 feet long with two rows of vendors. It is one of the biggest farmer’s markets in the county. The point is, it looked small in that big barren parking lot. As we would drive down the road circling the mall we would see this huge parking area with two strips of canopies. During summer the parking spaces within a couple hundred feet were full, but beyond that was more empty parking lot surrounding the market, giving it this small, forlorn atmosphere. This weekend as I walked into the market in the Light Rail parking lot I was astonished by how much larger and more vibrant it appeared. The Light Rail parking lot is smaller with two major roads bordering it, and it has planters with trees sprinkled among the parking spots.  The background noise of the traffic, the visual breaks caused by the trees, and the lack of a barren asphalt ring around the market made it appear to be much more than even the previous week. It is amazing how our perception of something changes based on visual cues unrelated the the object at hand. Change the setting without changing the object, and you still perceive and experience the object as if you had changed it.

Another case of what affects our perspective came to me during my phone conversation with my mother when we talked about my attempts at growing houseplants. I have two poinsettias from Christmas of 2007 that I am experimenting with to see if I can keep them growing. I’m not planning on making the bloom, just grow. Due to an unfortunate couple of days outside during an early freeze in fall of 2008, they almost died and I have spent the last year and a half nursing them back to full growth. One of them is leggy with large beautiful dark green leaves at the end of the branches, the other is small with small light green leaves growing all along the branches. I keep thinking that I’ll give up on the leggy one, even if it has the nicer leaves, just because it is leggy. In the US we are conditioned to think of lush growth when we think of poinsettias, despite the fact that they do not naturally have lush growth all along the branches. My leggy poinsettia looks natural, and that is the problem. I think it is kind of ugly, but it looks how it is supposed to look. My perception of the plant is influenced by my social conditioning, even though I have seen natural poinsettias before and know what the full grown plant looks like. Is it fair to the plant? No. So I keep the plant, trying to work my way through this dilemma of perceiving the unnatural and forced as beautiful, and natural as ugly.

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Posted March 8, 2010 by mayakey in musings

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