Ask me anything
Art historians, such as Bazin, have claimed that photography has credibility due to the intervention of the machine, which removes the fallibility and bias of man (Bazin, 13). However, taking the photo is only one step of photography; interpretation and perception are also key attributes of the art, both of which involve the infamous subjectivity of man. Photography is “curse” because we impose both our biases and often our trust unto artistic images that reveal little information about identity or situations.
Bazin’s stance that photography is an accurate reproduction of life does hold some truth (Bazin, 14); photography is precise and consistent in its ability to intake light, expose film, and create images. However, the medium has limits. First, it flattens and crops a three dimensional and 360 degree space foregoing the majority of the surrounding environment. Second, it removes images from their relationship to the past. And third, photographs do not portray auditory, olfactory, or sensory information; so we must interpret these important details from visual cues. A photograph by Ian Ference is an excellent example of how photographs remove the viewer from the environment. The space in the photo is visually beautiful with the light playing on the wrinkles of the fabric and slight luminescence on the wall’s peeling flakes. But, in an old building with damp drywall and old sheets there are inevitably some unpleasant smells, perhaps a cold draft, or creaky door. Standing in the smelly, cold environment it is unlikely that we would be captivated by the beauty of cool blue walls, but removed from the context we see an appealing photograph. The characteristics of photography that leave out information are not inherently bad; but based on this evidence, Bazin’s claim that photography is an accurate production of life is false.
The idea that photography is untruthful can also be viewed from another perspective- the perspective of the subject. Barthes describes the occasion of being photographed by stating, “Once I feel myself observed by the lens, everything changes: I constitute myself in the process of ‘posing,’ I instantaneously make another body for myself, I transform myself into an image” (Barthes, 22). This is a common experience in the twenty-first century that many can relate to, but what is it about the camera lens that commands people to form a new version of themselves? The answer comes from, the famous Susan Sontag who compares camera’s to guns (Sontag 14). If one points a gun at a lioness the animal transforms from predator to prey; and in a similar way, lenses transform the human individual into a posing subject. Because camera’s effect the world that comes into view, the photo transforms a scene from something natural to something artificial. The objective camera lens becomes subjective due to human intervention.
‘Kim Novak With Kodak Instamatic’
“ ‘But I like you.’ He cleared his throat. ‘I like you first and second and third.’ ”
The Detmold child
Known as the Detmold child, this 8-to-10-month-old baby died in Peru around 4480 BC – more than 3000 years before the birth of Tutankhamun. According to a recent scan (PDF) using X-ray computed tomography, the child was born with a malformed heart.
“The heart defect has caused a flooding of the lungs and has most probably led, in combination with the pulmonary infection, to the death of the young child,” according to Wilfried Rosendahl, curator of the Reiss-Engelhorn Museum in Mannheim, Germany, home to many of the mummies in the exhibition. The baby also suffered from pneumonia and turricephaly, a disease that elongates the skull.
The CT scan also revealed a small, flat, rectangular object nestled beneath the fabric around the child’s neck, assumed to be a kind of pendant, “perhaps an amulet made of bone,” says Rosendahl.
(Image: J. Ihle/Lippisches Landesmuseum, Detmold, Germany)
I saw this!!!! So creepy, but so cool!!!!
Our ability to attend to surrounding stimuli is vastly important for daily life. Picking a face out of a crowd or important signals when driving down a road are just two of the many instances where visuospatial attention aids our interaction with the world. Yet, their are people with reduced attentional capacities such as the elderly and those with attentional disorders who struggle with these tasks (Woodward, Fergusson & Horwood, 2000; Hyndman, & Ashburn, 2003; Townsend, Harris & Courchesne,1996; Halterman, Langan, Drew, Rodriguez, Osternig, Chou, & Van Donkelaar, 2006). Because attentional capacities are so important for both social interaction, safety, and learning (Barkley, Guevremont, Anastopoulos, DuPaul & Shelton, 1993; Ball, Owsley, Sloane, Roenker, & Bruni, 1993; Cardona, Martinez, & Hinojosa, 2000), it’s worth asking how visuospatial attention can be improved. There is research to support that training with video games and visual search tasks can heighten multiple aspects of attentional ability including attentional resources, field of view, and temporal attention.
Choi, Chang, Shibata, Saski, and Wantanabe (2012) tested whether the infamous attentional blink (AB), the inability to recognize a stimulus that appears directly after another stimulus (Raymond, Shapiro & Arnell, 1992), can be removed through practice. First they tested the participants initial susceptibility to AB by asking them to pick out a number among serially presented letter distractors. In the initial test, all of the stimuli were white; and as expected, performance was hindered by the AB. Then for the training, the participants performed a similar task except the number was red instead of white; the researchers hoped that the salience of the color red would draw attention to the target despite the AB. The experiment showed that after the first day of 450 color salience trials participants were able to overcome AB (Choi et al., 2012). Improving ones ability to recognize serially presented stimuli could be helpful in many situations such as driving, where stimuli appears at random intervals. There are also other factors at play while driving such as the size of ones peripheral vision; the following study found that this aspect of visual attention can be improved as well.
Ball, Beard, Roenker, Miller, and Griggs (1988) performed a study that asked whether the useful field of view (UFOV), the size of ones peripheral vision, could be improved through practice (Ball, & Owsley, 1993). It is known that middle aged and older individuals have a significantly smaller UFOV than younger individuals (Kosnik, Winslow, Kline, Rasinski, & Sekuler, 1988), and so the trials included three groups of participants- young, middle aged, and old. The participants were asked to respond to an array with a box in the center and a target stimuli beyond the box among a varying number of distractors. After training, all age groups improved their performance; the study shows that after training with UFOV tasks, one has a larger field of vision than before (Ball et al.,1988). Like the Choi et al. (2012) study, this improvement is helpful in many potentially dangerous situations such as driving and other scenarios that involve recognizing peripheral objects or navigating in space.
While both of the previous studies show that visuospatial attention can be improved, the following study suggests that video games are just as effective as the salience and UFOV tasks. Green and Bavelier (2003) performed experiments testing the attentional capabilities of video game players (VGPs) in comparison to non-video game players (NVGPs). They trained NVGPs on first person shooter games and then measured the number of objects they could attended at one time, the size of their peripheral vision or useful field of view (UFOV), and their susceptibility to AB. Trained NVGPs outperformed untrained NVPGs, which suggests that playing video games is an effective method for increasing visuospatial attention (Green & Bavelier, 2003). Although the participant groups differ, Ball et al. (1988) and Green & Bavelier (2003) come to similar conclusions that field of view can be increased with practice; similarly, Choi et al. (2012) and Green & Bavelier (2003) both concluded that practice can eliminate AB. In the real world, video games and other entertaining methods of learning and are preferred over dull visual search tasks (Squire, 2003). This is why first person shooter games could be a useful and applicable tool for helping people with attentional deficits.
According to the previous experiments, it appears that visuospatial attention is highly malleable and can easily be improved through multiple kinds of training (Choi et al., 2012; Ball et al., 1988; Green & Bavelier, 2003). These training strategies span from simple visual search tasks to complex tasks, goal oriented tasks, and first person shooter games, but they all resulted in improvement.
a poem by jay gatsby
So now that I’m home with my kitty cat and looking back on my freshman year…a lot of really cool things happened!!!