When I first read this article, the terms "Gestalt psychology" and "Gestalt principles" roused vaguely stored memories of college psychology classes, but no more than that. A little research, and I came up with this definition from Wikipedia:
On one level or another, we're all aware of the interplay between the parts versus the whole. For example, have you ever been complimented on a finished piece only to feel compelled to point out it's flaw(s) or what you don't like about it? Have you ever looked at an item and thought "Ug-LEE!," while the person next to you is sincerely raving over it to the point of actually buying it? Or, have you ever carefully planned out all the details to a project only to not like it once it's finished? I say, blame it all on Gestalt.
Gestalt - A collection of physical, biological, psychological or symbolic entities that creates a unified concept, configuration or pattern which is greater than the sum of its parts.
What I have been pondering in regards to weaving is the relative importance of the various details versus the overall impression that the finished piece gives. For example, Kate commented that my dishtowels look complex. And they do! This is exciting to me because the individual parts are very simple in themselves. (Gestalt again :)
Consider the parts:
* A simple warp of only three colors counted in a simple sequence ......
* A simple threading plan repeating only two possibilities on my four shafts......
* A simple tie-up......
* A straightforward treadling, simply repeating my threading plan.
I think what makes it look complex is the interplay of the stripes and colors. Gestalt.
As makers of textiles, it seems to me that we usually focus more on the details than on the whole. We notice them, analyze them, and fret over them if they don't meet our expectations. When I am unhappy with some part of my work, I am reminded of something my grandmother used to say......
No one will notice from a galloping horse.I nod to the truth of this statement, but still dilemmize over whether to fix it or not. It ultimately boils down to how much I know it will bug me if I don't. Sometimes the only one it bothers is me.
When someone looks at my work and likes it, I realize that they don't see what I don't like. They are responding to the whole rather than to it's parts. I realize too, that people respond to things subjectively. To like or dislike a particular item, whether a skein of handspun designer yarn, a painting, or a handwoven dishtowel, is an emotional response based on one's own personal preferences and cultural tastes. We're all different so we like different things.
So after all that what's my point? I'm not sure. Yet. I suppose that understanding all this should free me from being overly critical of what I create. And it should encourage me out of the rut of working only with what I like. It should free me from a solely analytical response and encourage me to participate in an emotional one. I suspect however, that this may be easier said than done. Still, it's something to work on.