You stop and stare

Work by Annette Koehnen

Annette's walnut table top

Table frame

Table frame

Thumb DSC9173 1024

Annette's planes

Annette’s planes

You stop to stare

Our attention is a very precious thing. We only have a finite amount of it at our disposal and we only control it up to a point. Sometimes we pay close attention, but to do so we have to stop and stare, consider things. People say they were stopped in their tracks. You cannot truly focus on something while you are moving quickly. Of course, wandering through a meadow or ambling along a beach and you’ll have time to notice little things. But when your pace is slow, distractions are few. If you’re navigating quickly, avoiding collisions, your brain directs most of its resources to that. Leaving precious little for appreciating the world around you. Ever wondered why supermarket trollies have wheels? The trolley ups your pace and the faster you move, the more you rely on your instincts to guide you, so the more you impulse-buy. In the time before supermarkets there were grocer’s shops where people stood in long queues, waiting their turn to ask the shopkeeper to weigh and select the goods they needed. It was quite a passive activity with plenty of time for reflection and using intellect. With the shop assistant running around without a moment to think. Not quite as passive as online shopping is today, but passive all the same.


When you need to seriously think about something, you will find yourself looking for a place to stop, something to lean against something or even to sit on. This allows your brain to direct all its focus towards solving the problem or puzzle or even comprehending what is before you. Your brain gently coerces you to do this, because it knows best how to run your systems. You will only override this impulse if your intellect has detected an obstacle your instinct cannot know about. Generally though, you do as you are told.

You have to study something to ascertain its value and you do this by searching your memories for similar things that you can compare it to. This is why we struggle when we see something completely new for the very first time. What choice do you have. You stop to stare.



Cabinets of Curiosity

We are curious makers of things, things we dream up ourselves. Remarkable, useful, beautiful and original things. Sometimes they are made entirely by hand, sometimes partly by machine, in the future perhaps by robots. May be not robots. Always with an eye for detail and with an element of fun.

If you care to follow this blog and join our journey, we’ll share our successes and (occasional) failures with you and hopefully you’ll become a frequent visitor. Suppose that depends on us keeping you entertained. So let’s get on with the words and pictures.

Work in progress


© Gerard Scanlan and Cabinetsof, 2015 -2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gerard Scanlan and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.