Ways of Seeing: Human and Animal Perspectives

A fascinating article in Atlantic brings to mind how limited our perspective is when we focus only on human seeing.

Many of us equate the variety of ways in which we see with John Berger’s classic book Ways of Seeing, also presented as a series on BBC. His book’s focus on cultural perspectives doesn’t touch on how differently humans and animals see. Berger later wrote an essay, “Why Look at Animals?” a part his 1980 anthology About Looking, which examines how we look at animals, but not how animals see.

A fascinating article in Atlantic brings to mind how limited our perspective is when we focus primarily on human seeing. The subject of how animals see is a fascinating field study, one that warrants more attention, as a recent article titled “This Animal Has a Suit of Armor With Hundreds of Built-In Eyes” reminds us. This article introduces a group of little-known sea creatures called chitons. They have evolved armor contains hundreds of eyes.

Chitons are mollusks, related to snails, clams, and octopuses. Their oval bodies are covered by a hard shell consisting of eight overlapping plates, which makes them look a bit like a woodlouse with a skirt, or perhaps like the forehead of a Klingon. In many species, these plates are dotted with hundreds of tiny beads, each less than a tenth of a millimeter across. These are eyes. Each contains a lens, a light-sensitive retina, and a layer of black pigment.

For links to a variety of examples on how animals see, visit Christopher Tyler’s Eye Page. He also includes links to a number of other sites. The image accompanying this post is from Tyler’s site. It is the eye of a female net-casting spider from Australia. The large lens concentrates light on the retina.

Tyler Talk: Time, Light and the Nature of Conscious Vision

“Time, Light and the Nature of Conscious Vision” by Christopher W. Tyler presentation at the Institute of Philosophy, University of London, April 23rd, 2015

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“Time, Light and the Nature of Conscious Vision” by Christopher W. Tyler
Institute of Philosophy, University of London, April 23rd, 2015

This lecture will take a large-scope view of the field of vision, which has always had a significant place in the history of philosophy. Lucretius in the early days of the Roman empire had a clear view of light as a wavefront, or film, propagating into the eye, a view that continued through Robert Grosseteste in the C13th, and Leonardo da Vinci in the C15th. How far have we come in understand of light as the medium of vision since then? In fact, we have added the magnetic and polarization components, but the basic concept of a wavefront propagating through time and space has remained unchanged into the quantum era. I will propose a new post-Einsteinian view of the nature of both time and light in this context conceptualized as the fractal extrapolation of a 6D space-time kernel.

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Screening of the optical movie ‘Tim’s Vermeer’

Screening of the optical movie ‘Tim’s Vermeer’ followed by presentations and panel discussion by Tim Jenison, Philip Steadman, Christopher Tyler and Sir Colin Blakemore. European Conference on Visual Perception, Liverpool, August 22-28th

Screening of the optical movie Tim’s Vermeer followed by presentations and panel discussion by Tim Jenison, Philip Steadman, Christopher Tyler and Sir Colin Blakemore. European Conference on Visual Perception, Liverpool, August 22-28thhttp://www.ecvp.org/2015/everyman.html

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