broken symmetry...

broken symmetry
in science as in everyday experience
catches the eye and provokes the mind.

years ago - and we're talking years as in maybe 40 or so - i came across this written under a picture in an ad. i think the ad was for a science company. anyway, i tore it out of the magazine and put it in a frame. it hangs in my studio still.

it is the thing that is different that makes us look again; we rarely really look at things, really look, otherwise. 

case in point: the earrings i made last night and wore today. four very nice people stopped me at different times throughout the day and said that they noticed part of one of my earrings was missing and  they wanted to let me know. but my earrings were just the way i had made them: different. broken symmetry was the basis of their design:

broken symmetry. earrrings. coated stainless wire, neoprene tube, wood, glass. 2012

i thanked them for noticing and explained to them that the earrings were just as i had intended and that the reason they had noticed at all was due to the broken symmetry of the design. if they had both been the same they probably wouldn't have noticed the earrings at all. i could tell that all four people were thinking about "things that are different" as they went on their way.

somewhere deep in our lizard brains, we're wired to notice the things that are different so we will notice things that might be a danger to us. little alarms go off. "what is it? why is it that way?" 

we tune out things that all sound the same, look the same, behave the same, but go on alert when we sense something is not the same, be it an earring or a person.

what we do after we make that observation is important. do we inquire as the four people i met today did? do we seek out more information? do we learn about the differences and see if there are actually some similarities when we look closer? (in my earrings, the materials and colors are the same.) do we learn something about ourselves as a result of noticing the broken symmetry? 

hopefully we do all of those and more. hopefully our day is enriched by our encounter with something out of the ordinary.

hopefully we will extend all we learn to the next time we notice a difference. and to the time after that. and then the next time, too. especially - especially - when we meet people who are different. 

because, after all...we are the ones who are different when they see us, right? 

karen anne


  1. Perfect post!! I love this concept and will be thinking about it. So much moves by us each day that we don't really see. Sometimes I find myself staring at someone because I know that I've seen them before but they are 'out of place' and I can't 'place them'.

  2. Any chance those earrings will be for sale?

    1. I'd be happy to make you a pair - the price would be $15 plus shipping( not sure yet what that would be) Let me know if you'd like me to make them and I'll be in touch Tuesday morning with shipping cost. I'd post them "reserved for" at www.lillehus.etsy.com so you'd order and pay there.

    2. Jennifer- you can email me at kaglick@gmail.com!