“See No, Hear No, Speak No”, oil on wood panel.
This is painting number 36 in my robot series. 36 is the atomic number for Krypton, thus the Superman shaped number surround. It is also the age Stevie Ray Vaughn was when he died tragically in a helicopter crash. Since the anniversary of his passing occurred while I was painting this piece, his initials were added beneath the 36.
This painting depicts three individuals who changed the world for the better through their handicaps.
The Blue robot, See No, was blind from childhood due to a freak accident involving one of his father’s leather awls. He poked out one eye at age 3, then later got an infection that moved to the other eye by age 5, leaving him completely blind. He was sent off to school, but found learning difficult since there was no uniform way to read. Outside of school there was merely silence and boredom. He felt strongly that knowledge was empowerment, and without a ways to effectively read, knowledge was difficult if not impossible to attain. His invention has helped untold millions of blind people to go on to live productive lives with dignity and empowerment. Coincidentally, the prototype tool he used for the creating Braille text, was a leather awl… the same tool that he poked his eye out with at age three. This robot represents Louis Braille.
The Grey Robot, Hear No, in middle of the painting is deaf. There are conflicting stories about “how” he came to be deaf, but all involve a train and ears, so you’ll have to decide for yourself. Anyway, he is the inventor of the telegraph, phonograph, carbon microphone, dependable and safe light bulbs for home use, and holds over 1000 patents. He is also the founder of General Electric. He is the one who discovered and patented the methods by which homes were able to step into the electric age without burning their house down or blowing their hair off their heads when they flipped a light switch… which he also invented. This robot represents Thomas Edison.
The third Robot, the Tan one was not an inventor, but it was through him that modern Phrenology and Neuroscience came to be. He was known simply as Patient Tan. That is because when he checked himself in to the hospital at age 30, the only word he could say was “tan”. Any question asked was replied to with the word “tan”, and if you made him mad, you got “tan, tan!” He spent the next 21 years of his life in the hospital while doctors of various backgrounds tried to figure it all out. It wasn’t until near then end when a Doctor named Pierre Paul Broca, who specialized in the study of language, began to work with him. He had other patients with the same condition, and had discovered that is was usually brought on by some damage to the head, the left side in particular. He has seen another patient who had shot himself in the left temple with a small caliber handgun, he survived, but as a result of the injury, could no longer speak. He began to surmise that perhaps certain areas of the brain begat certain functions. On April 17, at approximately 11am, patient Tan died. He was 51 years old. A biopsy of his brain revealed a large lesion in the left frontal area: specifically, in the posterior inferior frontal gyrus, a section that corresponds roughly to Brodmann’s areas 44 and 45 (as you well know). Today, Louis Leborgne is remembered as “Patient Tan”, one of the most famous patients in the history of psychology. And we remember his brain as the brain that was ground zero for Broca’s Area, one of the most widely studied language regions in cognitive psychology.
So there you have it, the funny painting that actually pays tribute to people who have changed the world through their handicaps and deficiencies.
If you look closely, there are many clues to who they are and what the painting is about… you just have to look close. My art, much like life, requires a close and contemplative look.