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This week we review some of the best responses to David Brooks's Art Assignment Ep. 4 -- Never Seen, Never Will:

To see more responses, visit our website or follow us on tumblr:

Many thanks to our participants who were featured:
-Laufey Haraldsdóttir:
-David Devine:
-Why-in-the-night-sky (father portrait):
-S.E. Vidrio:
- iconiclly:
- Leonie Connellan:
-Wes!ey Films and Projects:
Because there's some construction in our building and my office is shaking, today we're on a set to discuss some of the responses to David Brooks's Art Assignment "Never Seen, Never Will," which is to-
David: Articulate something that you know exists, uh, but you've never seen it and you very likely won't see it in your lifetime.
Sarah: You'll note he doesn't tell you to use a particular medium, so that verb "articulate" becomes key here.  In a technical sense, to articulate means to express something in words, and this opened the door to many good written responses, poetry, and vlogs, some of which you can see on our Tumblr.
But in a broader sense, to articulate means to express something clearly. Instead of torturing our editor, Brandon, by showing you a montage of many responses in quick secession, this time I'm going feature just a few responses so that we can talk about them in more detail.
David encouraged you to consider things not so far-reaching, and a number of you thought about how you would never really see yourself or yourself as others see you, which I thought was interesting in this the day of the omnipresent selfie.
Jennifer is a photographer, and she says because of that, she never gets her own picture taken.  So she asked a hundred people to take her picture, from photography majors to people who had never used a real camera before.  She said she never really liked pictures of herself, but thinks she's changed her mind.
Dafidaf works in a biochemistry lab and thinks about other ways of articulating the self, like paying attention to protein p38, which exists in most cells in the human body and regulates the cells' stress response. They say, "I know the genes that encode it, I know the sequence of amino acids that it contains.  There are even some speculations to what it looks like in certain cases and situations, but I have never actually seen it."
Laufey Haraldsdóttir has never seen herself on stage from an outsider's perspective and never will.  Her video points to the inefficiencies of camera representation and how inadequate it can be as a reflection of actual, physical experience.  At the moment when she turns around, we switch from being the spectator to being the spectacle and she makes the important choice of denying us the view of her fully facing the audience.
David Devine made this amusing video where he tries to record himself falling asleep.
David: I've always had a fascination with, uh, myself falling asleep or being asleep and what it would look like. Would I roll around, or would I... What would I do? In any case, I don't think I'll ever see myself...  
I've always kind of been fascinated with seeing myself seeing myself sleep, and I have always kind of wondered how I would react to seeing myself seeing myself sleep, but since I...
It's turtles! All the way... down.
If you don't already know the saying "It's turtles all the way down," there are several stories of its origin, but the gist is that a long time ago, someone understood the world as being flat and that beneath it, it rested on a turtle which sat atop another turtle and when asked what that turtle was resting on, the response was, "It's turtles all the way down."  
And when you're trying to conceive of something unknown to you, you're always resting upon your assumptions or the assumptions of others, going so far down that it's unclear what the basis is, or if there is any truth to be had at the core.
Some of you also thought about other people as your Never See, Never Will.  Like this person who posted this really nice drawing of their father who they have never met or seen a picture of, saying, "All I know is that he is of British descent with brown, wavy hair."  
When I look at this, I like imagining how the artist chose particular features, perhaps thinking of themselves and deleting what they can tell came from their mother.
Nadia and S.E. Vidrio who have never met and probably never will found each other in the comments to the Assignment video on YouTube.  They decided to write descriptions of themselves and then each of them drew a portrait of the other based on that description.  
This is Nadia's drawing of S.E. based on details such as male, almost twenty years old, taller and weightier than average, thinnish handlebar moustache, usually wears a black Stetson Bozeman, and plays the banjo.  
This is S.E.'s drawing of Nadia based on details like that she's a twenty-eight year old woman, pear-shaped, hair that curls out a bit at the very tips.  She's a classically trained musician whose favorite thing to do is curl up with a good book with classical music in the background like Debussy, Ravel, and Richard Strauss.  
He also talked about his sometimes frustration of being unable to capture the images in his mind, saying, "The Assignment revealed to me that art is a collaboration between the artist's brain and body: it is the imagination's creation as interpreted by the artist's abilities.  That often the very act of creating changes the creation."
Abby made this artwork and said about it, "I will probably never see the structures and places the ocean has claimed or the process of those structures eroding."  
For me, the painting is reminiscent of Chinese hanging scroll paintings, which are meant to be read or experienced in stages rather than taken in all at once.  
Like Abby's landscape, the scrolls often depict settings and creatures the artists may never have seen before.  And I also appreciated how suitable this vertical format is for viewing on the web, where you're used to that way of viewing: of quite literally scrolling.
This person also conjures places and situations foreign to them. In this case, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, saying, "All that I have to understand it are photographs and the news. As an 18 year old Utah girl I am surrounded by images and reports of everything that is going on in Ukraine.  The problems are so massive and overwhelming that, like Brooks said, it has become abstracted in my mind."
She's using the strategy of appropriation, which is when you reuse images or objects that already exist. 
Appropriation became increasingly popular as the 20th century unfolded, and images began to circulate and proliferate through the growing mass media. But what I like about this work is that it demonstrates how influenced we can be by the relatively little information we receive about a situation. She understands that these snippets and headlines and press photos are the turtles she's resting upon, as it were. 
Venturing to places even farther, space is certainly something that has captured the imagination of many of you. 
Like this representation of the universe, made from a glass box painted with water-colored images. About it, the artist says, "The images change and vary in contrast and color, depending on where the source of light is. I think also the same is true of the universe. No matter where we view it from, the view will be unrecognized from light years away."
Leonie Connellan made this little knitted Möbius out of typewriter ribbon. She says, "I've never seen a black hole, I never will. Gravity says no. Still, I'm fascinated with these distortions of spacetime that draw in matter and prevent any escape. What does a black hole look like? What does it feel like? What does it sound like?"
In each of these cases, I really enjoyed the approach of making relatively small, discrete objects to try to articulate the mind-blowing vastness and incomprehensibility of space. 
There's a lot we haven't seen, there's a lot we never will. But your articulations have helped me to think about what matters about image, and how we can find ways to imagine the world outside oneself.
We look forward to receiving more responses to "Never Seen Never Will." And please remember that if your response isn't featured, that doesn't mean it's not any good. 
If you'd like to get a more complete picture of what has come in, follow us on Tumblr. Thanks for watching, and thanks for participating in The Art Assignment. We'll leave you with a clip from one final response by Wesley Films and Projects about the gastric-brooding frog, which I think speaks for itself.
[Guitar strumming]