The Centre of Interest, and the Influence of Complexity

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”

― Søren Kierkegaard.

I’d like to begin by suggesting that reality has many layers. Nowhere is this more evident than when we are considering what causes us to be attracted to a certain work of art. To be sure, there are many reasons for this, but none more important than an optimal level of complexity.

So why are we attracted to a particular ‘work of art’? There are a whole complex of reasons - some include various design elements, organizational principles, and various compositional techniques. But, all research on this subject shows that in Art, a centre of interest must have a level of complexity above all else, somewhere in the mid-range of a complexity distribution curve; that is, neither too complex nor too simple to interpret. Humans are programmed to require a degree of complexity in any visual subject in order to feel comfortable with what they see. This because we have an evolutionary pre-disposition to interpret what we see around us as consistent with our biological instinct for survival. If we experience a level of complexity which mirrors to an acceptable degree our perception of the world around us, we are comfortable with that degree of complexity, and we perceive it as good. We perceive it as an affirmation of our continuing sense of rightness with what we experience, and therefore ultimately, and by extension our continuing survival. We can, as a result then make sense of reality.

A degree of complexity is also important to help us make sense of our mortality. If the centre of interest is too simple in its visual aspects, the viewer will search for this complexity, even in a highly abstract work of art. This because the complexity of life as perceived and experienced, is balanced by our knowledge of ultimate death.

Complexity in some way, balances and buffers that other harsh reality- one where the physical fact is not subject to perceptual interpretation. It is essentially simple, non-complex, and apparently final. However, Faith can provide the necessary meaning behind our mortality, and just as we search for complexity in all visual reality, through Faith we search for and find meaning, purpose and understanding in our own mortality. Faith gives us, within the limits of our capacity to understand, a certainty in our existence, and an expectation of our continuing existence in Eternity. In all Art, there is always something more than meets the eye...