Vision: Passing Time
(2019- )Close your eyes, when open them and look at the first object you see. In that first instant, when you think you are seeing an object, your eye is seeing a smear of colors and brightness. It jumps at least three times, and in each jump only a small bit of the image on the retina is in focus. Light impinging on the retina causes chemical changes, which causes neurons to carry signals to the brain. Each change take time to dissipate, but the eye does not stop moving during that time, so that every spot on the retina is affected by light coming from different parts of the object, causing a cascade of overlapping chemical changes. Once a part of the retina has been exited by light its sensitivity is decreased; if the dye did not move around,if we could actually stare at objects, the objects would quickly disappear from view as the retina fatigued. If our cameras worked like th retina, all our images would be blurs; that the optic nerve and brain can interpret this illuminated cacophony as a consistent image of the world is one of the most amazing facts of human physiology. And yet, we rarely look at fixed unmoving objects. If the world around us is not in motion, our bodies are, so to all of that physiological complexity must be added the problem of reconstructing objects from the fuzzy chemical traces they leave on different parts of the retina.
The images here are motivated by, but do not attempt to accurately replicate, the chemical complexity of vision at the first levels of processing. They ask the question, what has changed in a scene as we look at it? Those taken at intervals of very short periods of time might have a passing resemblance to the changes at the retinal level. Over periods of more than a second or time, the effect is more that of looking at a scene, turning away, and then looking back. We don't actually see the changes, just their affects, but we are aware of them. Calling them out, as these images do, offers a different way to experience the ordinary.