Origins and Mission
My name is Danielle Nicole Byington (personal website https://daniellenicolebyington.com/ ). I graduated high school in 2003, and attended college briefly with an interest in foreign languages, but withdrew in couple of years (like many first-time-college students) due to my uncertainties of how this goal met what I wanted to do–or, rather, what I wanted to put into the world.
At 27 years of age, I re-enrolled at East Tennessee State University with intentions of studying language and neuroscience; this ardor became a Bachelor’s degree with Honors in English by 2015, and, soon after, a Master’s degree in English by 2017. These educational experiences were the tools I needed to further develop the concepts which have manifested as Sight into Insight.
My Master’s thesis focused on three aspects of Gertrude’s eighteen-line description of Ophelia’s death in Hamlet (one of the most widely replicated Shakespearean moments in visual arts), which I defined as “Landscape/Setting,” “Body/Action,” and “Voice/Message.” While I struggled at the time to render these abstract concepts as I saw them, they became further apparent in language as I taught more composition courses.
Working as an adjunct instructor teaching an average of 8-6 courses per semester, I have witnessed a large, unofficial sample of writing that benefited from exploring these three aspects in writing, often beginning by asking students to draw a rendering of their thesis statements. This day in class always seemed to be a turning point with crude illustrations (never turned in to me) illuminating how much more there is to ask, or, “What’s at stake?” (a phrase allegedly originating among gamblers in Shakespeare’s time), and that knowledge of what is absent bolstering their work. Sight into Insight is centered on this absence and how to make it present for the creator/student. Not only do students learn what might be missing from a college research paper, but also what might be missing from their lives, as writing and visual art are typically informed by personal experience.
The situations which led me to Sight into Insight aren’t new to the world at large. In popular culture, communication in the twenty-first century–such as memes or Instagram posts–suggests that we rely on the relationship of word and image more than ever before. The work of the late art critic, John Berger, especially focuses on this phenomenon, always examining the intersection of what we’re doing and how we’re visually rendering doing so, whether that involves a centuries-old painting, or a current advertisement.
Through Sight into Insight, a business name borrowed from Annie Dillard’s essay of the same title, the objective is to blindly “see” what everyone else cannot. Dillard describes in her essay the sight impaired “tasting” edges and points of sharp objects so that they may describe them through other senses. Like so, Sight into Insight is most interested in what is impossible or difficult to see as an idea in the mind, and how those things “feel”–culminating in a pool of understanding.
When we say, “I see,” it is often conversational for “I understand,” this comprehension serving as a cornerstone of Sight into Insight, and that there is a capacity to understand more that isn’t yet “seen.”
Sight into Insight is an upstart business as of spring 2020. While the concept has been extensive, the reality, production, and navigation are fairly new. If we’ve crossed paths–in reality or the virtual–please feel free to reach out about workshops, sales, ventures, and inquiries at the email addresses below.