"... now, my sight and my world and my life have all returned." Vision: Healing the Blind in Ethiopia [vimeo, 10m] [more inside]
“But what shall we dream of when everything becomes visible?” Virilio replies: “We’ll dream of being blind."
Late in 2013, Guillermo del Toro released a voluminous book, entitled Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions. As he explains in the video, the 256-page hardcover is a selection from his notebooks, where the director developed many of the monstrosities we’ve seen on screen. The Guardian notes that there’s something of da Vinci’s notebooks in del Toro’s records: the small, neat script, mixed in with the wonderfully detailed sketches, combine to give the impression of del Toro doing his best to record the torrent of his imagination before the thoughts disappear. In this post, we include a number of these images.Previously [more inside]
Cuttlefish: Kings of Camouflage – (SLYT HD 53:26) PBS NOVA, April 2007. Wikipedia article, more images.
At the core of good science and engineering is the careful and respectful treatment of data. We calibrate our instruments, scrutinize the algorithms we use to process the data, and study the behavior of the models we use to interpret the data or simulate the phenomena we may be observing. Surprisingly, this careful treatment of data often breaks down when we visualize our data.
Does your cat act weirdly? Does it bump into and occasionally wreck stuff, like your face? Well, maybe it's not just because Grisou* is a jerk, maybe it's because it has crappy eyesight. [more inside]
Into the Light
Humanity has paused on Jones Street near the summit of Russian Hill in San Francisco. Tourists, businessmen, café workers, the homeless – all seem to have taken a collective breather at this steepest of places, a city peak where stairs are carved into the sidewalks so people don't topple. Only one person keeps climbing, and he's talking, too; he's saying that you can't stop here, that if you just keep pushing, you'll see things no one else will see, that Macondray Lane is just over the hill and that it's the most magical place in all of San Francisco, but you'll never see it if you don't keep pushing, you'll never see Macondray Lane unless you really know how to look.[via Slate]
io9: 'Everyone's A Sellout'
But the "selling out" thing isn't about whether the work is any good, so much as the question of "artistic integrity." Which assumes a simple model in which the artist has a "vision," that forms perfectly in her head, and she then executes that vision with perfect precision — unless she pauses to think about how best to attract an audience of paying customers, in which case the vision becomes compromised and, I guess, blurry. That business, of having a vision and executing it, describes none of the actual process of creating something from scratch, unless you're some kind of minimalist who writes a six-word story or just paints a big dot on a canvas.[more inside]
"Inspired by ruins, DNA and primary geometry, Louis Kahn was one of the 20th century's most influential architects. Why isn't he more famous? Oliver Wainwright on the life and legacy of a man who died bankrupt" ~ The Guardian
Four years ago, we showed English language speakers random colors and asked for the color names. Four years later, with CrowdFlower contributors now in every country of the world, the experiment becomes much richer.
Late in life, Claude Monet had surgery to remove the lens of his left eye as a remedy for cataracts, and found that as the lens was no longer blocking them, he could now see ultraviolet light.* When Alek Komarnitsky, engineer and self professed geek, had the natural lens replaced in one of his eyes due to cataracts, he found that he, too could see UV. Naturally, he decided to test the limits of his newfound ability, and to show others what it's like to have ultraviolet vision.(*via Kottke)
How do robots see the world? This is an experiment in found machine-vision footage, exploring the aesthetics of the robot eye. [SLVimeo]
"The observers of this unusual visual stimulus reported seeing the borders between the stripes gradually disappear, and the colors seem to flood into each other. Amazingly, the image seemed to override their eyes' opponency mechanism, and they said they perceived colors they'd never seen before."
How do you make a bicycle more visible to drivers at night? Create a new wheel-based lighting system: Vimeo / Youtube. Kickstarter campaign is finished and funded, (details of the design at that page) and the company is hoping to have them on sale by March 2012. Via. More. Demo videos. [more inside]
The Day I Saw Van Gogh's Genius in a New Light - Kazunori Asada explores a hypothesis: Did Van Gogh perhaps have a color vision deficiency?
"The result is almost unprecedented in film studies, I think: an effort to test a critic’s analysis against measurable effects of a movie." - Watching You Watch There Will Be Blood [more inside]
Is seeing believing? BBC Horizon looks at sensory perception, illusions and the interplay of our different senses. (Full program for UK viewers here). Makes you feel like you've entered The Twilight Zone. [more inside]
Filmmaker Rob Spence was blinded in his right eye, so he replaced it with a wireless video camera. He is building a video feed so people can see the world through his eye.
Visual puns combine two or more symbols (picture and/or text) to form a new meaning. The viewer must mentally elaborate on the visual stimulus to interpret the message. There are lots of examples, some good, some goofy, some bad.
Sea urchins do not have eyes, yet appear to be able to see where they are going. One posible answer: they may use the entire surface of their bodies as a compound eye.
Interesting developments in med-tech: gene testing machines for doctors, a plan to engineer stem cells to kill HIV, a new way to repair damaged nerves, the next generation of retinal implants, and the first bionic fingers up for sale. (Bonus for those uninterested in medicine: the newest take on a Minority Report-style interface, courtesy of MIT.)
Practical gene therapy treatment emerges. Prosthetics that feel. Circumventing paralysis with brain implants.
About 8% of the male population has some sort of color vision deficiency. The color blind are unable to clearly distinguish different colors of the spectrum, they tend to see colors in a limited range of hues. Because of this, the color blind have trouble with a lot of websites. The patterns and examples on We Are Color Blind help developers create websites the color deficient can use with minimal problems. Take a color vision test to see where you stand. 50 facts about color blindness.
The practical possiblility of augmented reality contact lenses. Contact lenses that reshape the eye. Bone-anchored hearing aids. Voice box transplant plans.
Recently, a man's sight was returned to him after losing it for 12 years. How did he do it? Surgeons drilled a hole through one of his canines, put a lens in it, and implanted the construct in his eye. [more inside]
A visualization of all the nouns in the English language arranged by semantic meaning. [NSFW words included!] [more inside]
The Academy of Achievement brings students face-to-face with the extraordinary leaders, thinkers and pioneers who have shaped our world. Through profiles, biographies, and interviews Achievers in The Arts, Business, Public Service, Science, and Sports teach us how the Academy's core values of passion, vision, preparation, courage, perseverance, and integrity can, and will, lead to success. [more inside]
Wearers of Adaptive Eyewear can make their own prescriptions. The lenses are plastic bladders that change shape and corrective power with a small syringe. So far 30,000 people who may never be reached by an optician or afford conventional eyeglasses now have corrected vision. Recipients are now able to read, mend fishing nets, sew, and perform other tasks requiring good eyesight. The inventor, Oxford University professor Josh Silver, hopes his nonprofit organization can begin manufacturing and distributing up to 100 million pairs a year.
The bespoke generative design system at the heart of Forever will spawn unique audio-visual films everyday, forever. [more inside]
The "terminator" is the dividing line between day and night as seen from on high. This shadow line is diffuse and shows the gradual transition to darkness we experience as twilight. [more inside]
More good stuff for people who like visual ("optical") illusions (previously): A nice Scientific American article, a particularly creepy illusion, and a link to the "Best visual illusion of the year" contest. Given that the eye/mind/brain is so easy to trick, a person might wonder what's really out there in the world.
"Double-Taker (Snout)" by Golan Levin with Lawrence Hayhurst, Steven Benders and Fannie White "...deals in a whimsical manner with the themes of trans-species eye contact, gestural choreography, subjecthood, and autonomous surveillance. The project consists of an eight-foot (2.5m) long industrial robot arm, costumed to resemble an enormous inchworm or elephant's trunk, which responds in unexpected ways to the presence and movements of people in its vicinity...." Googly Eyebot. (via) [more inside]
"People with synaesthesia can’t help but get two sensory perceptions for the price of one. Some perceive colours when they hear words or musical notes, or read numbers; rarer individuals can even get tastes from shapes." (previously) Neuroscientist Melissa Saenz of the California Institute of Technology has discovered a new form [pdf] of synaesthesia. Can you hear the dots? (QT)
Fortunes are rarely won by playing it safe. On the contrary, the biggest fortunes have been won by those willing to step outside the box and change the way the game is played. Following are twenty-five business innovators of the past, present, and future whose stories are different in many respects, but all point to the same truth: Ingenuity, improvisation, and daring are more important than following the rules (even though you might find yourself on the wrong side of the law once in a while). Via Fortune. [more inside]
How do things look to colorblind people? Colour Lovers (Prev: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - all more useful to those who aren't colorblind) offers some popular websites and iconic art, As Seen By The Color Blind. Luckily humans are smart and have created technology like the Color Blind Web Page Filter. Prev. Wiki.
"Over and over he scoops up a chick with his left hand, expels its droppings with a squeeze of his thumb, opens its vent with his fingers, peers through the magnifying lenses attached to his spectacles and determines its sex." It's a dirty job (YT). Sexing chicks early is important so that the cockerels can be separated and culled^ or fed to be broilers^. The obvious differences take weeks to develop, so when the vent sexing method was developed in Japan in the 1920s, professional chicken sexers became sought after. [more inside]
See For Yourself - Purves Lab's optical illusions web page with empirical explanations of familiar and unfamiliar illusions.
Doctors in London have made the world's first attempt to treat a retinal degeneration disorder using gene therapy. "The researchers aim to restore the activity in these cells and therefore restore vision by implanting healthy copies of the key gene into the RPE at the back of the eye. In other optical news, wired.com is leading with a piece about "Luke 's Binoculars" (yes, as in Skywalker) - a gadget that is meant to provide soldiers with a 120-degree field of view and allow him/her to be able to spot moving vehicles as far as 10 kilometers away by integrating EEG electrodes that monitor the wearer's neural signals. CTTWS, I presume?
Hacking the Senses: The brain is far more plastic than we commonly realize. Presenting new 'senses' via the old inputs works extremely well, to the point that long-term volunteers are a little lost without their new abilities to feel magnetic north or absolute orientation. Tasting direction; feeling pictures. Fascinating stuff. In a loosely related article, genetically modified mice are able to see the full color range visible to humans, even though the last natural mouse able to see this way died out a hundred million years ago. Add the new sensors, and the brain reconfigures. [via]
We’ve detected background radiation from the Big Bang. We’ve sent explorers to the bottom of the ocean and the moon above us. We have images of the individual atoms of which our world is made. But we cannot have direct access to the sensory experiences of another human being. Language can help to bridge the gap but it is an imperfect tool. The closest we have come is Brain Fingerprinting and even that only indicates recognition of a scene or object; it does not capture the actual visual memory of the scene or object. This may soon change. Several years ago, researchers at Berkeley wired a cat’s neurons to a computer and were able to obtain videos of what the cat was seeing.
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