Pareidolia noun The perception of a recognizable image or meaningful pattern where none exists or is intended, as the perception of a face in the surface features of the moon.
Discovering a new word, especially one that names a phenomenon that one did not realize was a “thing” is exciting. Pareidolia is quite common in humans, at least from the small survey I did. I asked friends (or anyone I could interest) to tell me what they saw, if anything, in a series of photographs I took at low tide on the shore of a small island in the Salish Sea.
I attended a Geopoetics symposium a month ago. One afternoon I attended an afternoon session that invited us to walk the shore at low tide in a “counter clockwise circulation” forming an O which we would then “later in the evening watch the sea edit.” Rain was pounding down and only five participants showed up. We valiantly braved the rain and walked in counter clockwise circulation. The O we were forming filled with rain water causing the sides of it to collapsed. Any indentation we had formed refilled with sand.
I was about to pack it in when my eye caught an image that had formed by the pull of the outgoing tide. This bolstered my flagging enthusiasm as I captured these sand images on my phone camera.
This was the first image I captured of the Salish Sea performance art.
Performance art because the images are formed and stay only during low tide that happens twice a day. I started to return every day at low tide and each day would produce different images.
The one below took my breath away when I rotated it into this position. I have not altered any of the images except minor cropping.
The instructions for the session read in part:
“Our shoreline interaction may spur participants to explore estrangement, intimacy, rural ritual, chronology, history, and/or relationship with human and more-than-human watery bodies. The interaction may be considered Geopoetics performance-as-research. There will be ears, and the shore will be a room.”
No O was produced that day, but I was shown original artwork produced by a more-than-human watery body that reveals something new to each human that interacts with it.
Comments welcome regarding what you see in the sand art