JAMES ELKINS THE OBJECT STARES BACK PDF

Impressions wash across my awareness. The author, with various examples from across the world and centuries, illustrates how, even though it seems complete and seamless, our view of the world is fragmented and incomplete. The world is flooded with light, and everything is available to be seen. After finishing that chapter, I wanted more so I bought the book and read its entirety.

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So I never got to flesh out any thoughts about them. Pictures of autumn leaves would come out partly the way they naturally look and partly glowing pink-and-turquoise. A picture of a hand would look a little waxy, with the surgace veins showing through as if the skin had become transparent.

The color infared film was also a way to think about the vision of other animals. Some animals see different wavelengths than we do; this raises curious questions about how they perceive the world. Bees can see some ultraviolet, so that they can look at flowers that appear perfectly white to us and discern patterns in them.

To us, the two extreme ends of the spectrum look very similar: red on one end seems to blend well with violet on the other. In terms of wavelengths they are opposites, but in our perception they seems like a good match.

This the reason why artists have been able to bend diagrams of the spectrum into color circles, connecting the red to the violet to make a continuous and unscientific cycle of color. If you think of what happens when you mix the deepest red with the deepest violet, you can only imagine a color very much like red or violet.

Most colors mix to produce new colors, so that for example, blue and yellow make green; but red and violet seem to only produce more red and violet. Violet at one end of the spectrum has a wavelength of around , and red is about You might think that if they were mixed, the result would be in between—say, about , which is the wavelength of green.

But red and violet do not mix to produce green. Bees are different, and they see mixtures of their two extreme colors ultraviolet and orange as a third color, which we cannot even begin to imagine. We have no capacity to imagine new colors. We are stuck with the spectrum and its mixtures, but we know that other animals may not be. Figure 9. And what about other ways of seeing form? Animals that can change their color, like flounders, octopi, and chameleons, provide a way to think about that.

A flounder will not only change its color to try to blend in with its surroundings; it will also change its pattern figure 9. The flounder in these pictures has a fairly good idea of what a dot pattern looks like, even though it ends up making dots that are several times too large.

But it messes up the large and small checkerboards. Faced with a small checkerboard, it produces some small white patches, but there are too few of them and they are unevenly spaced. For the large checkerboard it manages larger spots, but it cannot get the evenness of the pattern, and its silhouette remains clearly visible.

In describing things this way I am of course seeing as a human, and what these pictures may show is the way that the flounder sees those patterns. It could be that, for the flounder, those are perfect matches, and a large checkerboard really is a mottled black surface with some blotches of white. The flounder might be communicating its vision with its body, letting us glimpse the world through its eyes. I realize this question is too big for a blog post and certainly too large for a comments thread.

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The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing

So I never got to flesh out any thoughts about them. Pictures of autumn leaves would come out partly the way they naturally look and partly glowing pink-and-turquoise. A picture of a hand would look a little waxy, with the surgace veins showing through as if the skin had become transparent. The color infared film was also a way to think about the vision of other animals. Some animals see different wavelengths than we do; this raises curious questions about how they perceive the world. Bees can see some ultraviolet, so that they can look at flowers that appear perfectly white to us and discern patterns in them.

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JAMES ELKINS THE OBJECT STARES BACK PDF

Full Text Reviews Appeared in Choice on Elkins is an art historian and the author of several important works. Here he is concerned with the ways in which the perceiver and perceived interact and how each is changed in important ways by that interaction. Although he pays special attention to the perception of human faces, bodies, and behaviors, he offers ideas across the range of visual perception. The illustrations are directly relevant to the text; a few are shocking, even revolting, but necessary to the discussion because what we cannot see or cannot bear to see provides insights into the nature of perception. Kuchler and W. All levels. Cormack New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Appeared in Publishers Weekly on Because our viewing of people, places and objects is molded by thoughts of using, possessing, keeping or cherishing what is seen, we actually perceive very little of what we look at, claims Elkins.

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