In April my family and I ventured to California where we witnessed a variety of scenes. We travelled from the entirely fabricated landscapes of Disneyland, Legoland and Universal Studios to the vast desert vistas of the Mojave Desert, then west to the jagged coastline of Big Sur and finishing in a San Francisco cityscape – all in the course of a couple weeks.
When we returned home, the inside of our house was another changed scene since we decided that being away was an excellent time to get our much needed home reno done. We went from uninspiring dark wood walls to significantly more light and open space.
During this month, I thought about how these outer experiences have the ability to change your inner landscape. At Universal Studios, or Disney, for example, this is what they perfect. For a few minutes on each ride you are projected into surroundings that will give you a feeling of excitement, fear or wonder. This can happen when you’re immersed in any landscape that is vastly different than you are used to. For instance, in the desert, my husband said he felt claustrophobic, hemmed in by dryness. In the city I always feel inspired and excited, (for a couple days until I feel overstimulated). In our freshly altered house I feel maybe more relaxed.
Painters also are aware that they are creating a simulated experience. Paintings offer a window into another world where the viewer may experience a number of different responses; such as, anger, happiness, disgust or awe. The response may be different for each person, or depend on what is happening in their life at that moment.
Are we aware of how much our surroundings may be affecting us? Have you ever been in a landscape or have viewed a painting that noticeably altered the way you felt inside?
Image: Warren and Arlo walking through the (real) desert landscape of Joshua Tree Park
What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.
C.S. LEWIS, The Magician’s Nephew