We don’t see with our eyes? What?

Ladies and gentlemen, we do not see with our eyes. Indeed, humans can see without eyes.

That sounds pretty idiotic doesn’t it?

But it is a true and proven fact as compared with opinion. Some elaboration: Our brains are responsible for our perception of vision. Our eyes are only data collection devices that transmit information to our brain for interpretation. Without a conscious brain, we see nothing. With a conscious brain, amazing things are possible. Take a look at this:

Scientists are currently hard at work finding ways to interface data collection devices to the brain. I could site numerous examples of people perceiving vision where electrical impulses activate regions of the brain. One experiment had a profoundly blind person “see” braille patterns. Other experiments using cameras as eyes are currently under way. Another experiment made it possible for a person to see color using audio stimulus from a resonating implanted chip to bone interface.  We can extend our ability to perceive things beyond the limitations of the data collection devices we are born with.

There are human instincts motivating us to extend our perceptions as they relate to self-preservation, pro creation and nutrition. Without those instincts we would surely be extinct by now. Our ability to perceive the space between things is extremely useful. Eyes spaced apart facilitate increased recognition of motion, useful to determine potential threats. It widens field of view and aids in our ability to reduce near field of view obstructions like leaves and vines by having two eyes horizontally spaced apart. Ever notice how the brain automatically prioritizes the eye that has a less obstructed view?

An important point is that the brain adapts to the data collection devices that we have. Where they deviate from the norm the brain adapts and we resist naturally anything that challenges our perception of the world, even if it differs from that norm. That’s why you hear people with compromised stereovision say that there is something wrong with 3D motion pictures. Their norm could be that they can’t easily fixate both eyes on a single point in space. Perhaps they have compromised accommodation adaptation. Most will argue strongly against any suggestion that their perception of the world is compromised (ego/emotion).

What’s this have to do with 3D glasses? 3D glasses facilitate data collection for those with the ability to process the data (which is most of us). Of course, there will be push back from those without this capability and the bias will be to say there is something wrong with the glasses or 3D and not something deficient with the person! That’s one part of the push back and it is significant. The second part is related, and it has to do with the benefit and reward associated with going to the trouble of putting the glasses on. Movies that force the eyes to splay apart or remain crossed for extended periods over the course of a 90 minute movie will create discomfort because the brain doesn’t like that. It deviates from the norm. Eyestrain is brain induced in the same way stress creates back pain. The brain likes to tell us when things aren’t right. It’s called self-preservation and has helped to keep us from going extinct. Last, but not least, going to the trouble of putting on 3D glasses must offer a return on that investment in the same way any other add on device to our data collection apparatus would do. The benefit must be strong enough, or we will push back against it.

What are the signs of a low return on investment? If you hear: “wow that was cool” don’t be suckered into thinking you have a success. Anyone can have a “wow” reaction the first time they experience it. After some repetition, “wow” can quickly become boring. “Wow” does not equal long term value. “Wow” is fleeting. This is a partial explanation why 3D gains popularity and then wanes and then gains popularity and then wanes.

But getting back to the issue of the glasses… If there are superior data collection devices that are less cumbersome and provide greater accuracy and provide superior brain engagement then glasses will eventually be replaced by that method. Could it be hologram technology? Sure! Could it be something else? Absolutely! Predicting the future is a tricky thing. The superiority of any given enhancement for our perception data collection devices can be highly subjective and not always predictable. I read somewhere that Benjamin Franklin talked about the superiority of contact lenses and that someday everyone would wear them. Contacts have been perfected and perfected and are quite amazing. Why would anyone still choose to wear glasses when contacts are clearly superior?

Guess what? Most of the time we use emotion to decide things. Emotion can be irrational and go counter to logic. Ego and emotion are extremely powerful determiners of behavior. Emotion explains unexpected behavior and stereovision is tied to emotion in a different way than when we look at flat imagery. Generally speaking, the human brain has not fully adapted the illusion of motion picture 3D as it differentiates from everyday 3D perception. It is similar and dissimilar at the same time which can create perception conflict.

To the extent that, as artists, we can exploit human data collection devices, we can create art that engages in amazing ways. If it is compelling enough, people will find a way to pursue it!

Technology is a tool to use to achieve a goal. Where technology is lacking, humans will find a way to make it better if it is required to achieve a goal.  Each idea creates a new goal. If the technology isn’t working for you, get off your butt and do something about it! Everyone reading this has the opportunity to make a difference. Life is short – get busy!


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