The Stereoscope, Also, Bambi.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about vision, depth perception, and time for a while now.  What I have been trying to wrap my brain around, is that what we see (assuming we have both eyes open, and they are working) is a composite of images from both our eyes.  The thing that has me really weird-ed out, is that both of our eyes are separated by a few inches, and also by time(from sense-agent to object:triangulation).  It is this shift in time-space that lets us fake (at best) depth perception, which is an incredibly useful thing to have, particularly if you like eating or defending yourself.

What I had not considered much prior to taking photos, is how much work stereoscopic vision is, and the weird effect it has on how we perceive things.  Consider that there are arguably 10/11(or 12 depending on math/world view) dimensions, and vision only captures 3 of them.  If you’d asked me a year ago what those three would be, I would have said they were length, width, and depth.  But now, I’m not so sure, because what I have experienced seems like we get a fairly dependable rendering of length and width (with some distortions depending on our distance to the object we are looking at) and we predict or guess at depth, and the mechanical means of producing this effect is through the measurement of time.  In many ways, I feel like time is the third dimension we “see.” particularly as it intersects with length and width.  The field we see is still a collapsing of 3 dimensions across a fold into 2, with the third dimension “faked” by the a-synchronization between the two reporting sense-agents(the eyes), which makes that mode of vision very dependent upon judging very fine gradations of time(defining distance to object).

I’m sure you may have considered that the “real” doesn’t give a shit, whether or not you are good at perceiving it, or that our species creates simplified working models to grapple with sense acquisition of food friend or foe, but I’m fascinated by the idea that we navigate the enfoldment of depth into length and width, by way of time.  That the fold is a purposeful collapse of data, one that I feel we misnamed depth.  We talk of 3-D, whilst all of the dimensions of the real operate on us however they like, and mostly without our perception.  I’m struck with the idea that each flat plane we receive we must interpret through time, and there a great consequences for getting that wrong.

Above I posted two photographs that might seem the same at first glance, but are, to my eye, quite different from one another.

After taking about 50 photos of this subject with my cell phone I whittled them down to just these two shots to share.

If I were to have to choose, at gun point, an image to give you, it would be the right one, which in my humble (very much in the process of learning) opinion is at least 50% better than the one on the left.  I like the way the reflected image of the curtains in the table glass frames the reflected body of the deer statute, as well as the smoothness of the deer body’s reflection, which is not interrupted by antlers like the one on the left.  The composition of the photo on the right also is simplified, removing the second curtain from the shot, and getting a little more of the TV both as a primary and reflected image.  There is also the slight “book-ending” effect of the white light from the edge of the curtain, and the sheen across the surface of the TV and its reflection.  The tilt is slightly less dramatic on the right most photo, giving the whole photo a more gentle feel.  But what if I was wrong, and the gun spoke?


It is a bizarre thing I keep thinking of, that the difference between these two images and stereoscopic vision is by degrees.  If you were to consider the camera’s photos as 2, two dimensional planes, separated by very minute shifts in time and point of view, and then look at how eyes function together to create an image, you could make a case that these processes of sense acquisition are nearly parallel.  The distinction between these processes would come at the synthesis stage, where the brain interprets them as one plane.  If you want to weird out a little further, look between the images above and feel how your mind determines if they are one or multiple subject(s).


***Thank you for coming on this journey with me today.  This is part of my process of learning, and as such, is valuable only if it sparks curiosity.  I may be grossly mistaken in many avenues of inquiry, so please, like me, seek out the best sources we can for understanding and argument.  I welcome comments, insight, and a hint at the next flag post.  Be well fellow traveler.***

Poem:  When I was 4, my parents took me / to see Bambi, I was wrapped / in my woolen blankie when /we killed / the great mother / with the ravening / claw of fire and the gore-snout / of Mauser / and drank of the Hi-C / punch, lips red as if pressed to horn of Jaegermeister / and celebrated in the entrails / of that day: I the shorn-headed / sprouted my horns / every follicle lit as if by lunar fire / realizing what we had done to her, and the consequences/ to a you being so like me / shouted no Bambi / don’t go back into the forest / and then, acting on instinct/ I ate him.


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