Tag: vision

Temporo-Spatial Synesthesia

Carol Steen / American Synesthesia Association

Synesthesia of the Day – Temporo-Spatial Synesthesia

Temporo-Spatial Synesthesia, also known as Time-Space Synesthesia, mixes the senses of space and time. People with this form of synesthesia see time as having a visible form. When thinking about the year, they might see it as a circle wrapped around them. A week or a month might be a sequence of rectangles laid out in a consistent pattern. A day is often a circle. Whatever form it takes for them, it does so consistently. For some, in addition to the shape, different parts can have different colors.

Credit Dankonikolic – CC-BY-SA – tap for larger

For as long as I can remember my year has been egg-shaped, with the pointy end centered on the last week in December and the broad end comprising the summer, particularly July and August. I know that makes the oval asymmetrical, with the spring side being longer than the autumn side, but that’s my egg. Depending on where I am looking in the year, I might see the months stretching out ahead and curving to the right, or behind and curving to the left. The winter end is darker and the summer lighter. The spring side is greener and bluer, while autumn is yellower and redder. There are many more details that show themselves under closer looking, and everything looks different depending on where on the year I am. I did not know that this was a form of synesthesia. If I had thought about it, I would have assumed that it was the same for everyone. Neither of these images looks like my year.

My months are graduated segments of the track of my year. My weeks are straight pieces with humps for the weekends. They can be parts of a month, or they can be isolated. My days are two twelve hour circles, bright or dark depending on the time. It seems obvious that these shapes are the result of how time was depicted in the culture I grew up in. I’m glad I grew up with analog clocks.-)

Here are a couple of links. This one is by a woman who tells a story clearly and well. This one is for people who like and understand phrases like projector-associator distinction and visual salience.

Does your year have a shape?

rjb

Elgin’s Synesthesia

Credit Filipe-Simões

Credit Filipe-Simões

Synesthesia of the Day – Elgin’s Synesthesia

Elgin, like the other inhabitants of Green Comet, is a synesthete. I refer to that fact a few times during the novel, and in the sequel, Parasite Puppeteers. I don’t go into a lot of detail about the types of synesthesia the individual characters have, although I do imply that they each have at least two types. Given the rudimentary stage synesthesia research is at now, and even more so when I was writing it, I didn’t think it was wise to nail it down too precisely in the story. And given that the characters have multiple strong synesthesias, I doubt that the interactions and synergies among them would lend themselves to the tentative, simplistic classifications we’re developing now. However, given all that, I think I should offer my idea, the thing I’m thinking of when I imagine Elgin’s synesthetic perceptions.

Elgin’s most obvious synesthetic trait is the way he feels in his body when he sees an example of good engineering or construction. For instance, when Minder takes him out and he sees the new corridors and how well they’re made, he has the sensation of all his bones being properly aligned in his body. A very comforting sense of rightness. I haven’t found one type of synesthesia that fits this perfectly, but it is somewhere in the vision to touch, proprioception and kinetics area. He feels what he sees on many levels: simple touch, deeper orientation and subtle movement.

This goes beyond a simple integration of physical sensations. When he looks at an engineering paper and immediately knows if it’s right, the role of vision is taken by concepts and ideas. Inner visions. But the principle is the same. What he “sees” is experienced as “feeling.” The same applies to more general situations. As long as he has enough data, enough information, he can tell if something is right. Not in any moralistic sense of right or wrong, just whether it’s right. For instance, when Frances and Buzzard explain to him how Green Comet is in danger from the Visitor, he instantly knows that they’re right, because it feels right.

So, for lack of anything better, let’s call Elgin’s synesthesia Seeing-Feeling Synesthesia. This web page doesn’t address it perfectly, but it provides some good food for thought. And here’s a pretty good site for exploring the types of synesthesia.

rjb

Microsculpture – The Insect Portraits of Levon Biss

levon-biss-jewel-longhorn-beetle-640x280

Levon Biss is a successful commercial photographer. His work has been used in advertising, on magazines and in a book about soccer. Now he has an exhibition of his images of insects, showing the Oxford University Museum of Natural History’s insect collection in stunning detail. The exhibition runs from May 27 to October 30, 2016, and it’s called Microsculpture. The prints range in size up to three meters, each an image of a tiny insect captured down to the finest detail.

These are not just snapshots of pretty bugs. Each image takes about three weeks to complete. He shoots each insect in sections — about thirty on average — and then compiles the shots into a single, complete image. In all, he shoots 8,000 to 10,000 photographs of each bug, then combines the best parts of them into the final product. He needs to get the lighting and the focus just right for each tiny part, so the whole image can be perfectly lighted and focused. Since the depth of field is so small with a microscopic lens, he can only move the camera ten microns between shots. That’s not much more than a tenth of the width of a human hair.

If you want to see the detailed originals of these small samples, follow the links to Levon Biss’s Microsculpture website. There you can see the light reflecting off the individual cells of compound eyes, and count the hairs on little buggy legs. There’s also a video that shows how he did it.

All photos copyright Levon Biss.

rjb

Some Women See a Hundred Million Colors

An unknown percentage of women can see a hundred times as many colors as the rest of us.  While normal humans have three types of cones in their eyes for perceiving the three primary colors — red, green and blue — some women have an extra cone that gives them four primary colors.  Most of us can theoretically distinguish a million colors.  These women can see a hundred million colors.

Tetrachromatic women have a strong relationship to color-blind men. How does a deficiency — color-blindness — relate to this increased color perception? It has to do with the X chromosome and the fact that the genes for color perception reside on the two sides of it. With only a Y chromosome, and missing one of the arms of the X chromosome, men have less chance for redundancy. If they have a mutation in a color gene it usually means some loss of color perception. Women related to these men will likely have the same mutation, but they will have redundant genes on the second arm of their X chromosome. So the men will be down to two functioning cones, but the women will still have all three, plus the mutated one, which might still provide some color.

More recent research indicates that we might all be tetrachromatic after all. It turns out that parts of our optical system absorb the shortest wavelengths of the light that passes through them. It was assumed that our vision cut off at about 400 nanometers — blue — but it’s been discovered that the higher blues and the ultraviolets are being absorbed by our corneas and lenses. People who have their lenses removed in cataract surgery often report a new sensitivity to very short wavelengths.

Recently the BBC made a tetrachromatic woman famous. Concetta Antico is an artist and she can see colors that most of us can’t even imagine.

Some women are born with hyper-sensitive eyes that can see the world in ways most of us cannot even imagine. What’s it like to live with this gift?

Source: BBC – Future – ‘I see colours you cannot perceive or imagine’

This led to an Internet spasm, of course, and tetrachromacy became all the rage. There were even websites set up that purported to test you for the condition. Soon thousands were reporting on their social networks that they were tetrachromats. Fortunately, Snopes came to the rescue and showed quite simply why they were wrong. Computer monitors only use three colors so they can’t possibly test you for four. The Snopes article refers to Newcastle University’s tetrachromacy research project and credits them in debunking the Internet fad. Newcastle University has a FAQ on their research.
newcastle-tetrachromacy-project

When I look out the window and see all the shades of green and brown in my back lawn, it’s hard to imagine that I’m not seeing it all. Learning that some people can see a hundred times as many shades makes me think about how little of reality I’m really seeing.

rjb

Irises

Photo credit - Suren Manvelyan

Photo credit – Suren Manvelyan

In his photo collection, “Your beautiful eyes,” Suren Manvelyan of Armenia has captured extreme close-ups of human eyes. I admit to being surprised by the rugosity of our irises. I won’t weigh this down with words. I’ll just show you a few samples, and then you can go to his website for the full collection.

Photo credit - Suren Manvelyan

Photo credit – Suren Manvelyan

Photo credit - Suren Manvelyan

Photo credit – Suren Manvelyan

Photo credit - Suren Manvelyan

Photo credit – Suren Manvelyan

Photo credit - Suren Manvelyan

Photo credit – Suren Manvelyan

Photo credit - Suren Manvelyan

Photo credit – Suren Manvelyan

Go to Suren Manvelyan’s Behance website. You’ll see a lot more photos of irises. And be sure to check out his other projects, too.

rjb

%d bloggers like this: