My study of autostereoscopic imagery , like the layers of an onion, continue to reveal more and more – like Einstein’s theory of relativity. The surprising connection between 3D imagery and space/time theory has captured my imagination. The single biggest difference between a “regular” photograph and an autostereoscopic photograph is the depiction of the space between things. That depiction exists in an autostereoscopic photograph and doesn’t exist in a regular photograph.
When we see and perceive space, we are also experiencing time. Photons of light move through time as they move through space. The time component of stereopsis vision was important for our ancestors – to interpret the speed of the danger moving towards them to determine a fight or flight response, as one example.
But it goes much deeper than that. Seeing the space between things is a component of perception that gives meaning to where we exist and our relationship to the world and our ability to interpret the concept of time. Perhaps, that explains the flood of emotion those that gained stereopsis vision later in life all have reported. The ability to more directly experience the space/time component of our existance sounds pretty compelling to me as something to get emotional about.
Can the real space/time that exists in reality be captured in an autostereoscopic photograph? Of course not. And I don’t think it has to, since our eyes don’t capture everything. But I do think it is critical to incorporate into the photograph what our eyes are able to capture. Because when the brain has to do special gymnastics to make sense of what it is seeing then its ability to translate the imagery into something that makes sense is jeopardized.
Thinking about the above, my approach has been to study what the differences are between true reality and what our eyes and brain are doing to interpret what is real using the equipment that we have. In that way, I can determine what is important to be included in an autostereoscopic photograph and what isn’t so important. I have discovered many things with this approach that aren’t obvious on the surface. For example, the brain expects certain disparities from the left eye to the right eye. When those disparities are exceeded, the brain makes a big deal about it (giving us a headache for example). When those disparities are too similar, then the brain rejects the imagery as “real” to a greater or lesser extent depending on the content of the imagery.
As to the relationship of time with the space depicted – that has yielded some fascinating areas that I am keen to study in much greater detail. It seems that we do have the ability to make sense of a frozen moment of space/time even though it isn’t anything we would ever experience in real life (or is it?). Many autostereoscopic images illicit emotions associated with looking at dead things. I don’t think this is a coincidence. And I believe the reason for this goes much deeper than simple association of things that don’t move to dead things.