Imagination and representation are intertwined. What we think of as imaginary work is an image that incorporates the rules of reality in a manner inconsistent with our expectations. But this is an inaccurate definition of when a work is incorporating imagination. Everything we create is a product of our imagination.
Our ability to perceive is directly connected to our imagination and the ideas that help us make sense of the data we are receiving. We live and see through concepts. They are the building blocks of our perception. As representational artists we come to understand this when we first learn to draw what we see. Lack of understanding causes us to see a symbol instead of the data our eye is receiving. We start by drawing that imaginary idea for what we think we see and get a shock when we see the gulf between that idea and what is in front of us. The first step for us as representational artists is the education of our imagination, and the development of our visual understanding to bridge the gap between our concepts and our perceptions. This is our visual literacy and the development of our visual vocabulary.
There are many qualities to perception, and many things that can be analyzed to formulate a more complete picture of how what we see is constructed. We can then assemble these ideas and use this experience to construct scenes. No matter how representational, the images we create are not real, they are recreations of aspects of perception knitted together to create a reality. This is the same process a writer goes through when constructing a scene and portraying an event. They learn how to craft their verbal construct so that it flows in an order that conveys the semblance of a real experience. It is created from their imagination even if they are attempting to represent a real event. When creating this scene the writer can alter some of the rules of reality so that what does not occur in the real can. This is most easily apparent in stories that incorporate fantasy or science fiction. But even if the writer creates a fiction that stays true to all the basic rules of existence it is still a construction of imagination.
Imagination is at the very center of representation in all disciplines.
Mica Pillemer is a working professional artist. He received his MA from Queens College and his MFA from University of Massachusetts in Amherst. His art education came from many masters and art schools including Associates in Art, Art Students League of New York, and Grand Central Academy of Art. He has lived in and studied in many cities including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Florence Italy. Mica is currently living in Melbourne Australia.