What is a property such as colour in the absence of context / environment and in the absence of observation? Can properties exist independently of context and / or observation? Could what we call illusion be more real than we think it is (or could reality be less real than we think it is)? “
This is the key to the whole thing. I would agree that color always appears within a wider context if that context is ‘lighter/darker’ or ‘contrast’ or other colors, however I would disagree that it must always appear in a context which is larger because of conceptual relations.
When we push on our eyeball (um, with the lids closed), we can see color without any context other than the default color of our closed-eye visual scope. We are not looking at a thing which is blue/green (in my case), we are looking at the visual field presenting itself with a specific phosphene hue which stands out from the background hue.
This is a first step toward understanding how reality is derived from realism, which is a potential derived from the accumulation of perceptual qualities. Perception is not derived from reality, only from larger scales and scopes of (non-human) perception.
How does our brain recognize the difference between real world and hyper realistic animation world? – Quora
(my answer on Quora)
We may not know as much about perception as we think that we do. While we have become comfortable with the scientific explanations of the processing of sensory signals and how to simulate them, there may be much more to it than that. Of course we understand that there is much more to reality than we can perceive, and that our perception can be more easily manipulated than we would have thought possible, but that does not mean that there are not also other ways of knowing and seeing which we are not consciously aware of.
The phenomenon of the Uncanny valley is the statistical ‘valley’ or region of
“negative emotional response towards robots that seem “almost human”.
There is a sense of creepiness which relates to the animation of inanimate bodies. The depiction of zombies or ventriloquist puppets that come to life are part of the horror genre because we have a deep revulsion to something which is not alive but is imbued with agency and the power to move by itself. The concept of the ‘undead’ is a supernatural theme, which is similar to, but not identical to the unnatural quality that we find in computer animation. Compare the following:
Impressive for its time, but to me, these characters look unnatural, eerie, fake, etc. It is an aesthetic shock, along the lines of unexpectedly realizing that someone has a prosthetic limb.
Looking at a claymation analog like Gumby, there is a similar doll-like emptiness, but it seems to be partially compensated by the honesty of the materials. There is concretely real stuff there, it’s not an abstract imitation of material bodies. The contrast of the odd, synthetic quality with the lo-fi childish content comes out quirky and somewhat charming.
Here it can be seen how adding dimension and realism can detract from the character rather than improve it. As a 2-D cartoon, Homer Simpson has no uncanny qualities – it is a direct expression of a genuine cartoon artist. In the 3-D version, there is some of that surprise of confronting an imposter or alien.
There may be no way, in fact, to simulate reality in such a way that all people will be fooled all of the time. I propose that this may not only be true because no simulation can be sophisticated enough, but also because reality may have within it a kind of breadcrumb trail which connects back to the total set of true and real conditions of the universe. We may only be aware of some of that breadcrumb trail at some times, and some people may be more or less tuned into that intuitive capacity than others, but if that is true, then there is no reason to presume that it is emergent from the function of the brain alone.
Just as we use eyeballs to condition our sensitivity to light, to focus and see outside of our brain and into the world, our entire body, may contribute to our consciousness in ways which we do not yet understand. It may go further than that, if we believe the accounts of people who claim to see auras…perhaps there is an electromagnetic or chemo-hormonal sensitivity which extends beyond the skin. The universality of idioms such as ‘gut feeling’, ‘feel it in my bones’, and ‘touched my heart’ may not be entirely fictional, particularly since the gut has a nervous system of its own, and the heart produces its own magnetic field.
Because a cartoon or photograph is only a visual experience, we already are very limited in how many sense modalities we can use to perceive it. While we might argue over whether an AI can pass a Turing Test on the basis of text interaction, few would argue that simulating the physical presence of a live human being in real time and real space, whom you could touch and look in the eyes is something that will be possible any time soon.
Authenticity may be more than the sum of its measurable parts. Authenticity may not be an emergent phenomenon which can be constructed through mass imitation on a sub-threshold level from the bottom up. Instead, authenticity may be a vital and intrinsic property of the whole, which can only be pointed to by a model. The entire assumption that reality can be substituted with total sensory satisfaction, even with perfect technology, may be false. The brain does not have to recognize the difference between the fake and the real, it just has to feel what all of the different senses it uses are feeling and compare them to its expectations, both local expectations, and perhaps non-local or absolute truths.
The reducibility of our body to elementary functions and forms does not necessarily have to reduce us to forgeries. There is another possibility, which is that there is something to be forged that is precisely the opposite of a copy. As hinted at in the video, each experienced moment is a kind of unrepeatable performance. Instead of focusing on the absence of a concrete physical object, we can look at the aesthetic content of the experience itself as the concrete phenomenon – not a simulacrum (pronounced sim-you-lah-crum) but a localized fragment of authenticity itself. Is color basically a bad copy of white light? Is the universe basically a bad copy of nothingness?
Humans are not bad copies of anything, but the degree to which we are unique snowflakes is relative to the proximity of our scope of consideration. Within our own frame of reference, we are absolutely unique. Within a social frame of reference, we are stereotyped culturally. Moving out from the human context, an individual human becomes more and more generic – a mammal, an animal, a biological organism, a chemical reaction, etc. This variance is, in my view, what the universe is ‘made of’, so that no one context of description is the final ‘real’ description.
In other words, this commentary is literally “here”, and that video is actually “there”, and that is what relativity ultimately means…perception itself – awareness, is the ultimate frame of reference, and without perception, there is nothing to frame.
Given that light has many strange properties, both on our natural scale as rays and on the elementary scale as photons, there is every reason to doubt that light qualifies as something which is unambiguously physical. On the other hand, since we cannot imagine a completely new color wheel, it would seem to say that the experience of seeing light is “real”, and not, a label for certain kinds of information that is fabricated in the brain. People who become blind at an early age, for example, experience stimulation to their visual cortex as tactile stimulation rather than seeing lights or spots.The condition of blindsight shows that parts of our brain can receive optical information without our having experienced that information personally as visual sensation.
In a way, white light can be considered to be what it looks like when transparency is concentrated. White light is when the quality of visibility is so saturated that it exceeds the range of discernment . A bright light illuminates a room not with whiteness but with clarity. To shed light on something is to flood the visual field with an immediacy of aesthetic acquaintance that suggests veridical qualities of the environment being illuminated. This is why we have metaphors such as ‘seeing the light’. Because it is about being connected with the presence of what is true and sensible, rather than being passively bombarded with particles. It can be said that our experience of seeing is not a direct detection of what is true, since there are so many ways to reveal optical illusion.
By calling it an illusion, we are framing the phenomena in a way as to implicate human fallibility rather than physics. Somehow we are wrong about what our eyes report, yet it is not clear that our assumption about what our eyes are reporting is scientifically valid. In fact, if it were not for these optical illusions, science would have very little to go on in determining the nature of vision as separate from physical truth, so it is actually the gaps between our expectations and the truth which reveal more truth, both about the nature of visual awareness, optics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics. Optical illusions are an encyclopedia of the nature of perceptual illusion, physical reality, and the relation between the two.
The folk science explanation for light perception generally begins with the idea that we can see light hitting our retina. That may be true, but not scientifically. The part that light plays in our visual system ends with the isomerization of rhodopsin in the retina. If what we see as “light” is in the visual cortex, then obviously what the visual cortex receives is not photons from the outside world, and it is not a direct analog that shows up as a small screen of images in an MRI. To even guess at some of the content of our visual field requires a blind statistical reconstruction. There is no plain-text transmission of images in our brain to simply hack into and view.
The effect that light has on the retina is merely to trigger the geometric extension of Vitamin A molecules and stop the flow of glutamate to the bipolar cells. That is well behind the first ganglion that would lead to the optic nerve and visual cortex. I propose instead that photons are not entities that are independent of their transmitters and receivers, and that light is therefore not physical but rather inter-physical, aka, phenomenal, aka sensory. Photons are measures of the sensitivity of our mode of detection. It is neither ray, beam, particle, or wave, but rather a rhythmic phenomenalization of matter – a feeling that matter has about what is going on around it. By making inferences beyond our sensible grasp, I think that Quantum Theory has given noun and verb-like properties to what are ultimately adjectives. Bosons and fermions may not be like that at all, but rather they are opportunities for matter to re-acquaint itself. The elementary measurable features of the cosmos may not be particles or strings, but qualities which characterize the capacity of matter to measure and interact with itself. Physics is a mirror. For every action and equal and opposite reaction, because equal and opposite reaction is a perfect reflection of our mode of scientific inquiry. We are investing our coins of empiricism in nature, extracting the empirical value, and recording the profit in our scientific ledger, like good, serious 18th century gentlemen.
It seems to me that only a medium which is intrinsically filled with the sense of color, form, and intensity across the many physical scales could reliably and veridically bridge the gap between public material realism private experience.The notion of a seeing light as a Rube Goldberg patchwork of conveyance into separate effects on every level*, all transported through a one dimensional collision detection schema is not consistent with reality. There are too many examples of people who have seen things in dreams and visions, too many qualities of visual experience which cannot be decomposed sensibly to pixels or lines for the photon explanation to be satisfactory. The qualia of color alone, whose idiopathic shifts and wheel-like symmetry have no place in the smooth continuum of the electromagnetic spectrum.
I suggest that light is only one specific form of a more universal medium, and that this medium is already known to us informally by the word ‘sense’. Sense as in sensation, sensitivity, sensor, but also as in making sense, sixth sense, and ‘in the sense of’. The unity of all sense can be more precisely expressed as ‘primordial identity pansensitivity’, ‘nested sensory-motive participation’, or even something like ‘self-tesselating aesthetic re-aquaintence’, depending on how technical and pretentious we want to get. From this Absolute firmament, and I think only from this firmament, can we get the full range of private experience, public physics, symbolic information, and the capacity to compare and contrast them. Only when physics is seen as identical with sense can physics be completed.
On the elementary level, with a nested sense primitive, we get relativistic locality (so eigenmetrics rather than eigenstates). Sense is modulating its own self-transparency and reflectivity to generate eigenmetric milieus – levels of scale that foster certain kinds of aesthetic themes and activities. The micro-world with its mathematical-molecular-insectoid clarity is different from the soft, lush features of zoological-arboreal-botanical existence. On some level perhaps, sense is nearly undiluted, and so the entire history of the cosmos is as a single now – a white whole singularity in which the now cannot even be completed and the here cannot hold even the hint of a ‘there’. On that level, there is non-locality.
*optical, molecular, cellular, ocular, neurological, psychological, sociological, zoological..
That’s really interesting, too much for me to all read but I appreciate the effort put into this.
I do disagree on your first point though. There is such a thing as objective color. Photons have wavelengths, and specific wavelengths are specific colors, regardless of how our eyes and brains interpret them.I read a part of the article you linked, and if you do take into account how the eye and brain interpret colors, there is still objective color. Apparently we do all have different ratio’s of red vs green vs blue cone cells, but as the article says, our brains are still in agreement over what exactly is yellow. So our eyes might be different, but our brains correct that difference.
Think about the nature of the visible spectrum. We perceive it as being composed of soft but distinct bands of hues, usually seven or eight : red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, indigo, violet and sometimes fuchsia, which is not a spectral color. Colors such as grey, white, brown, beige, and pink do not correspond to any one frequency, so they cannot be said to map to the wavelength of any particular photon, yet we perceive them as discernible colors.
The color palette is of course, also a wheel in which colors are seen as ‘opposite’ to each other, and which generate various effects when placed adjacent to each other, as seen in various optical ‘illusions’:
In that one what we see as green or blue are ‘actually’ the same aqua color:
I put scare quotes around the words illusions and actually, because this information has helped me understand that what we see is never an illusion, only our cognitive expectations about that we see. By manipulating the various layers of sensation and perception to expose their conflicts, we can tease out the truth about color, and by extension consciousness. There is no ‘actually’, there is only ‘seems like from some perspective’. The experiment showed that our color perception can be altered for weeks after subjects return to an unaltered optical state*. Our brains correct the difference because they are not translating wavelength of photons but projecting relations within the optical experience as a whole.
Now think about the visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Does it have seven soft bands or is it an absolutely smooth quantitative continuum? Does the continuum form a wheel with primary and secondary oppositions, or is is an unbounded linear progression? Does it repeat in octaves, where one frequency suddenly recapitulates and merges the beginning and ending of a sequence, or does it monotonously extend into the invisible spectrum?
Our eyes tend to differ, and photons might be the same, but color is not photons. In fact, photons from the outside world only do one thing in our retina, and that’s isomerize rhodopsin molecules – meaning that the proteins in our rod and cone cells are studded with vitamin A molecules which basically become erect in the presence of visible light. From there, the folded proteins in the cells sort of swell open and actually cut off what is know as ‘Dark Current’ – the continuous flow of glutamate which is interpreted as seeing light *in its absence*. Light, in a sense turns our experience of darkness off.
Once we let all of this information sink in, it should be clear that the experience of color is just that – an experience. It correlates to optical conditions, but it also correlates to conditions in which there are no optical inputs at all. Even where it is isomorphic to exterior measurements, there are no colored photons inside of the brain that we are seeing. We are seeing the same neural conditions that we feel, smell, taste, and hear, and synesthesia confirms that as well. This does not mean that neural conditions are a solipsistic simulation however, but that’s a whole other conversation (which I have my own ‘crackpot’ theory for 🙂 http://multisenserealism.com)
In the above diagram, the nature of light is examined from a semiotic perspective. As with Piercian sign trichotomies, and semiotics in general the theme of interpretation is deconstructed as it pertains to meanings, interpreters, and objects. In this case the object or sign is “Optics”. This would be the classical, macroscopic appearance of light as beams or rays which can be focused and projected, Color wheels and primary colors are among the tools we use to orient our own human experience of vision with the universal nature of material illumination.
On the other side of bottom of the triangle is “Vision”. This is the component which gives vision a visual quality. The arrows leading to and from vision denote the incoming receptivity from optics and the outgoing engagement toward “Light”. When we see, our awareness is informed from the bottom up and the top down. Seeing rides on top of the low level interactions of our cells, while looking is our way of projecting our will as attention to the visual field.
While optics dictate measurable relationships among physical properties of light on the macroscopic scale, ‘light’ is the hypothetical third partner in the sensory triad. Light is both the microphysical functions of quantum electrodynamics and the absolute frame of perceptual relativity from which various perceptual inertial frames emerge. The span between light and optics is marked by the polar graph and label “Image” to describe the role of resemblance and relativity. Image is a fusion of the cosmological truth of all that can be seen and illuminated (light), with the localization to a particular inertial frame (optics-in-space), and recapitulation by a particular interpreter – who is a time-feeler of private experience.
This triangle schema is not limited to light. Any sense can be used with varying degrees of success:
The overall picture can be generalized as well:
Note that the afferent and efferent sided of the triangle have a push-pull orientation, while the quanta side is an expanding graph. This is due to the difference between participation within spacetime, which is proprietary feeling, and the measured positions between participants on multiple scales or frames of participation. Sense is the totality of experience from which subjective extractions are derived. The physical mode describes the relation between each subjective experience and between other frames of subjective experience as representational tokens: bodies or forms. It’s all a kind of trail of breadcrumbs which lead back to the source, which is originality itself.