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SPECIAL EXHIBITION:   Is the Internet Changing the Way We See ?

On your browser bar you'll find an eye, a looking-glass, or even a flashlight. You and a virtual René Descartes might reason - "I search, therefore I see." - But those icons of vision are deceptive. Yahoo! is blind: Google sightless. Images in "dataspace" disseminate information every which way: whereas pixel for pixel words take us somewhere and quick. But does this prejudice distort your point of view, your insight, and your imagination when you arrive? See if your mind's eye wants more than a place to click.

QUESTION 1:  What do you imagine can fit inside the Blue Box ?

After you view each keyword selection, click on boxes in the paintings to exercise your eyes.

REVIEWING 1:   Words can fail.

As a species we have possessed clever eyes and hands for far longer than an ability to speak. Words offer general information to facilitate fast communal communication. Mostly we reach clarity and a level of certainty in the privacy of our sophisticated eye-brains. Can we trust blind search engines and keywords to follow the contours of reality?

At one time a Google search on "room for doubt" provided 36,000 possibilities whereas "space for the imagination" provided 948. So was there more doubt than imagination in the world at that time? Did 38 doubtful rooms fit into each imaginative space? Will doubtful imagination fill up cyberspace before imaginative doubt? Absurd? Yet these are the sort of assessments that our resourceful eye-brains automatically make of the available visual data: which web-wise is the amount, position or even movement of text and the space around it.

Seeing involves much more than looking. Neuroscientists say that in addition to the visual cortex we have thirty visual centres in our brains that enable us to perceive and interpret visual stimuli. But if computers can match the relevance of 4,285,199,774 web pages to our criteria in 10 seconds without looking, what is it that we do with our complex eye-brains?

Take another look at the paintings - by making simple adjustments to the width of your browser's right-side frame you might immediately find answers that words could only approximate.
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QUESTION 2: The Blue Box holds ?                   


REVIEWING 2:   Words can fool.

For some time a portion of our reality has arrived ready-packaged as a rich blend of words and imagery. We see things that we don't have to evaluate for ourselves because a voice-over, headline, caption or label, names and categorizes what we are seeing. Life is easier when all our eye-brain has to do is confirm that the image somehow fits in with the words.

But now text is the mainstay of the Internet and we are discovering that wwwords come with a meaningful look as well as a literal meaning. To comprehend them fully we have to think actively with both our visual and our verbal brains... often simultaneously and at speed.

As web-users we are back in a visual jungle. Our eyes have had to relearn several old skills: like finding that one small item that we imagined we'd find amid the chaos; memorizing its visible location and noting what rules apply; scanning for clues to see if the rules have changed; and assessing any new rule correctly and quickly. All this could be daunting if our eye-brains weren't already masters at the game.

This time there is no review process. To view all the images you had to devise visual rules involving the words and the images. Then you had to be prepared to break your own rules. Visual intelligence takes a lot of brainpower... as those of you who have been playing computer games for a few decades will know. Some people will be able to fly through dataspace free as a bird - others will keep on clicking like a battery hen.

The Internet revives forgotten skills...                                                                               visual thinking is alive and well...                                                                               everybody is doing it...                                                                               because there is no choice                                                                              until oral interfaces take precedence.                                        

In visual terms the Internet is proving itself as a great leveller. Homepages designed by untrained individuals often function better in visual terms than sites created for major multi-national corporations.

Millions of people have unwittingly entered the world of graphic design and rediscovered what it is to think visually.

Simply to use the Internet, everyone has had to become much more watchful. This, I believe, has always made for diversity in human intelligence - we are taught standardized verbal language to communicate with others from age two - but our eyes open and begin to function autonomously three months before we are born. We each have our own idiosyncratic way of seeing the world. Our complex eye-brains are wired differently. One individual's flint chip can become humanity's spearhead.

Remember nobody other than you is standing at the co-ordinates of your point of view.


Imagine your own blue box. What does it contain? What keywords would you use to describe it? If you want to share them, or comment on the exhibition, or ask a question, please type in the box below. This information remains private unless marked for the public guestbook.


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