Esref Armagan

Close your eyes. Imagine that you have been blind since birth. Now try and visualize the images that I describe. 

“We are standing on the banks of a small stream. There is a bridge that takes you across. There are three houses on the other side of the stream.  Two of the houses are stacked right next to each other on the right side of the bridge. The other house is on the left.

Reflection is the image of an object that we see in mirrors and other shiny surfaces. The reflections of the houses are cast upon the waters of the stream. In the reflections the houses appear upside down. The color of water is deeper right below the bridge where its reflection is cast. In other places the color of water is lighter. 

There are trees at the back of the houses. The color on the treetops appears light. Color is dense in the middle and lower half of the trees. 

Let me also tell you that in the natural world objects that are closer to us appear larger than objects that are far away, this is one of the elements of perspective that is used in drawings and paintings

Now feel free to draw and paint the image that you have visualized. Please do so with your eyes still closed. â€œ

Few of our brains are worthy of an elaborate study. Esref Armagan the blind Turkish painter is amongst the few whose extraordinary capacity has caused Harvard researchers to study his brain. 

Born blind in the year 1953, he taught himself to draw using cardboard and nails. Using a braille stylus that etches the lines of his drawings, he feels the objects first and then he draws them. With a pencil in one hand and with the fingers of the other hand closely feeling the etched drawings, he guides himself as he captures the image that is stored within his brain. 

He uses just five colors along with black and white and paints his drawings with his fingers. 

Researchers found that the visual cortex, which is usually dark in blind people, lights up when Esref starts drawing – a finding that surprised many of them. His ability to bring in the elements of perspective into his drawings is so extraordinary that it caused more studies to be conducted by the University of Toronto.

Personally I find his work fascinating. To me it goes to prove that at a very intrinsic level, the perceiver and what he perceives influence each other in a highly interconnected way. This makes me wonder how much of our life experiences are true and how much is fabricated by our mind.