The thing is, what do I look at? On the surface, colors and the shape that greet me; but if I keep staring another picture enters, blurred, losing detail. Only certain features remain which give character, like a certain cast to the face or gleam in the eye. If I look further the focus leads to more loss, as if the retinal image cannot hold. Surprisingly, other shapes emerge. An inner eye engages and the spirit behind the body takes over. The snapshot is the first gateway; then a sketch takes me through the second, intent on character. Beyond this the deeper feature is caught only in a diagram, more a concept of the thing than the actuality. But through this third gateway the mind’s eye switches on - in abstract readings. Something else is resurrected, stirring up emotions and memories. When word and line cease, visceral feelings make the forms beyond the shapes, hallucinatory, and poetic.
~ Cecil Balmond, beginning excerpt from Element