A picture is worth a thousand neurotransmitters
Enter the Stanton household and you’re likely to walk in on a lively debate about human consciousness, the patter of keyboard keys drafting out a True Crime article, or a slow-boiling tiff between the two resident cats. One thing you probably won’t walk in on is a dull moment.
“My wife and I were discussing the phenomenon of the power of suggestion one evening,” John Stanton of Indianapolis said with a chuckle. “We later went out for a stroll and as an experiment I turned to her and exclaimed, ‘Oh, my God! There’s a dead body in that shopping cart!’ Flo freaked out for just an instant, then totally cracked up. She understood that I was demonstrating the principle we’d been discussing. The interesting thing for her was, that in the moment I’d broadsided her with an unexpected suggestion, she actually saw a man in the shopping cart, down to his clothing and hair style.”
Discussions like these are par for the course for Stanton. He has been investigating the mysteries of perception and the human brain for several years. “My primary focus is accelerated processing towards the goal of enhanced creativity, learning, and problem solving” Stanton said. “It’s a sad effect of culture when we don’t realize that we think so much faster than we talk. We’ve not begun to appreciate what we’re really capable of. I want to shed some light on what ‘processing’ really is, and any means to improve or accelerate it.”
“One of the things I like most about Paint Shop Pro is that it's as intuitive as a paint brush.”
Before he was exploring the enigma of consciousness, Stanton worked with Photo Restoration. That’s where he discovered Paint Shop Pro. “I came across the program in 1999,” Stanton said. “I was doing a lot of work with old tintypes. You’d look at them and they look solid black, like there’s nothing there. But I used Paint Shop Pro to draw the images out. It was fascinating.”
“Paint Shop Pro makes it easy to concentrate on the work instead of the program,” Stanton said of his image work. “One of the things I like most about Paint Shop Pro is that it's as intuitive as a paint brush. For all the computer power, all the elaborate code behind what we see on the screen, there is a natural, easy flow to its functionality. I don't have to break my train of thought to use the program.”
Now Stanton uses Paint Shop Pro to create images that he believes exercise the ‘processing’ center of the human brain. “A lot of attention has been paid to the ‘input’ and ‘output’ phases of creativity,” Stanton said. “Most old books on creativity mirror the same formula: a period of immersion with the material one wants to master or create from, then a period of ‘Incubation’ in which you stop the immersion, then the ‘Eureka!’ moment when it all comes together, and out pops insight and innovation. I’m interested in what actually happens in between those moments.” This is what Stanton refers to as processing. “If we stimulate processing where it might be stagnant or stuck, this has implications in learning and therapeutic modalities,” Stanton continues. “EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) achieves this, and I have been experimenting with achieving the same effect using visual images.”
Stanton references his image “Mary Ella” in his explanation. If you look at this image and gently cross your eyes, a third, black and white image appears in the center. “Perception of this image involves two aspects of the brain – negation of the color and the creation of the illusion of depth. Adding things together and creating something new in the brain, while at the same time subtracting the color. The combination of depth plus the negating colors forces more cooperation between brain hemispheres, and if you can sustain the middle image comfortably for more than a few seconds, you should definitely notice a ‘felt-sense’ shift in your state of consciousness.”
This “felt sense,” Stanton believes, represents the brain exercising, and thus strengthening its processing muscle. He works with a community of scientists and maverick philosophers who agree. His work has been used in Think Tanks and independent scientific exploration. Stanton’s next project is to create a system of 3D imaging that, when viewed, increase this creative problem processing. He’s also working on a web site www.3amblue.com.
Stanton said Paint Shop Pro is more than keeping up with his foray into human consciousness work. “Price first attracted me to Paint Shop Pro, but power, intuitive use and the continual development of the product has kept me as a customer.”
Despite the scientific nature of his work, ultimately, Stanton is after what we’re all looking for: answers. “Art isn’t just something we use to entertain each other, it’s a mirror we peer into in an attempt to understand what we are, and what we can be. Why do we create and use such tools as Paint Shop Pro? What is consciousness, and what is its potential?” These are the questions that Stanton devotes his energy to.
So what does he do for fun? “We get a bunch of DVDs and hang out,” Stanton says with a laugh. Never a dull moment.