Day 10: Senses Revisited

July 1, 2010 in Uncategorized by Isabel Gold

Today we all attempted to escape our clustered lives and examined our senses one by one.

We started out with optical illusions. I have spent many hours on my couch, my nose pressed against countless “magic-eye” postcards, waiting patiently for something to pop up, or cocking my head violently to search for the young lady in the hag (that’s what they called her – I would have chosen a different word, myself), so I anticipated finding “the secret” to recognizing all optical illusions.

Okay, so I didn’t find the secret. I did not find the hidden faces. The snakes slithered but for a nanosecond. But I now know that our brain is unable to associate reality and perception, and often chooses the most logical perspective, even if it causes other things to look outrageous.

I grew more and more excited as we talked about pointillism, a technique where you basically form your picture through… points. At museums, I always love going up close to a painting of someone like Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, or Chuck Close and watching the dots and miniscule strokes form into a realistic image. All of my favorite images and optical illusions change after wearing out your retinas.

When I was seven, I adored the talking vases that I saw at the Science center’s optical illusion exhibit (which I happened to go to many times a year until it was replaced by the galleries a few years ago) and pretty much stood and watched the vases spin and the people’s mouths move up and down. I clumsily drew a cat version of the talking vases tonight (inspired by the dancing cats!), and while the mouths don’t move, and the cats look more like deformed rats, you get the idea.

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What it’s supposed to look like.

Somewhat like the dancing cat, the vase and the talking cats are seen interchangeably, and only after you concentrate (much less than the dancer), you can see one or the other. I imagine that the cats indicate our natural pareidolia, or our inclination to see images.

On another note, I absolutely loved Gil Kuno‘s work and lecture. When I play or listen to music, I have learned that deconstruction is the most important part of listening and analyzing. When you break down the instrumentation, the chords, and the progression, you can find a perfect and often symmetrical formula for even the most chaotic pieces of music.

Kuno’s deconstruction then suddenly seemed like the most logical and ingenious idea. I especially adored his band, the six-string sonics. The band, which was composed of six one-stringed guitars, an eight foot, two player bass, and drums, was able to quickly fluctuate from complex jazz chords, to highlife, to punk rock – I was amazed at the versatility of the instrument.

The one string guitars reminded me of this cute little toy I have, called the Otamatone, which is basically a note whose stem is a fingerboard and note-head can alter the intensity of the sound. It’s hard to describe,so here’s someone playing it.

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The most annoying thing in the world? Possibly.

We finished the day in the anechoic chamber, which really did isolate and dull our senses. As we stood in the dark dark room, armed only with our sonoluminescent tape, I realized how much I relied on simple things like echoes. I had no sense of where I was – the voices across the room sounded close while people sitting next to me seemed to be as far and as dim as possible.