Tag Archives: perception

“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly”

Untitled, 30 November 2010, No. 1

Untitled, 30 November 2010, No. 1, created on an Ipad - ©David Hockney

Errol Morris and David Hockney are revising perception. This month, Morris publishes his book Believing is Seeing, a study of the ways viewers interact with photography and make truth-claims based on what they see in photographs.  Hockney is using a series of cameras to demonstrate to viewers that they can see more of the everyday world. He wants people to consider the question: “What can nine cameras do that one can’t?”  Someone could take both Morris and Hockney’s projects as nothing more than acts reinforcing relativism. That would seem to be an impoverished view of two people trying to think carefully about how we see, and how little we see when we insist that we are seeing.

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“The Purloined Letter” Lives

You will recall from Poe’s “The Purloined Letter,” a story that has received a great deal of theoretical attention the past few decades, including a lengthy piece by the philosopher Jacques Derrida, that the best way to hide something is to place it in plain sight.  That is, many people do not see what is right in front of them, perhaps especially when they imagine that the thing they are looking for would be hidden.

In an experiment that you can watch below, the experimental space is labeled with a big sign, indicating that the experiment is happening where the sign is:  “Experiment here.”  Yet, 75% of the people in the experiment do not notice a few things that we (those who know what is happening) might consider obvious.