“The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turn out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment”
- Bernard d’Espagnat
As the introductory work of a series called Concepts of Reality, the aim of this work is to acquaint viewers with a fundamental concept of reality, according to perceptual inference, which has been treated both scientifically as well as philosophically.
Perceptual inference, at its core, suggests that as a highly intellectual and ocularcentric species, most conclusions humans make are based on biases derived from visual information. Vision, according to Jacky Bowring (2007:81), is an integral aspect of the modern human’s sensory and phenomenological experience, especially with regards to acquiring knowledge, understanding and forming conceptual ideas.
The following thought experiment is a suitable method to represent perceptual inference in tandem with reality: A blind worm cannot conceive light, although it is all around it. Does that mean that relative to the worm; light does not exist?
The Olm is blind and to them, light does not exist. If you were to ask the Olm about light, it would argue that light does not exist. It is merely an enigmatic fabrication. However, we know that the Earth is bathed in light at any given time, contradicting the notion the Olm might have.
According to Jacob Feldman, Professor of Cognitive Psychology, in Bayesian Models of Perceptual Organization (2014: 01): “the proximal stimulus—the pattern of energy that impinges on sensory receptors, such as the visual image—is not sufficient to specify the actual state of the world outside (the distal stimulus)”.
Feldman continues to suggest that out of multiple possible interpretations of a perception, the brain automatically discounts “far-fetched alternatives” and ultimately consciously settles on the most likely solution, influenced by inferred biases.
Reality is stuck in the instance of relativity. Light relative to the Olm, is fictional and fantastical. To us it is a fact. It is empirically justified and we do not doubt its existence.
According to Professor of Computational Neuroscience, Li Zhaoping (2008) people are better prepared to see something vague, when the surrounding context is also vague. When we are faced with contextual chronology, our inference is highly biased to preprogramming, both physiologically, cognitively and spiritually.
This artwork addresses the contextual relativity of reality by asking a fundamental question with regards to perception. Is seeing believing? or is believing seeing?.
Since, our brain reaches the most obvious conclusion (the reality we are accustomed to) based on our prejudices and preprogramming in the guise of vague context. The first assumption we make about the shapes depicted here are ‘multi-layered’ in meaning. Referring to the ‘crescent moon’, the most notable belief we perceive is that it is a ‘crescent moon’. However, reality consists of all the alternative possibilities. In this case, the crescent moon can also be a white circle, behind a black circle, on a black background.
Thus, just because it is not observable. That does not make it impossible.
So, as humans, what is it that we believe is real.
 Ocular centrism, suggests the privileging of vision over the other senses. According to Jacky Bowring (2007: 81) we are a ‘visual culture’, aligning figures of speech like ‘I see’ synonymously with the acquisition of knowledge. Humans are highly dependent on visual input, with regards to the information gathered about our immediate environment, ‘I will believe it if I see it’.
 The Olm (Proteus anguinus) is a salamander species. It is the only member of its genus, and is Europe’s only cave-dwelling vertebrae species. It is highly adapted to life in the subterranean darkness and is permanently blind.
Bernard d’Espagnat, Quantum Theory and Reality, Scientific American INC, 1979.
Jacky Bowring, Sensory Deprivation: Globalisation & the Phenomenology of Landscape Architecture, Lincoln University, New Zealand, 2007.
Jacob Feldman, Bayesian models of perception: a tutorial introduction, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, 2013.
Li Zhaoping & Li Jingling, Filling-in and suppression of visual perception from context – A Bayesian account of perceptual biases by contextual influences, Department of Computer Science, University College London, UK, 2008.
Michael J Ostwald & Raeana Henderson, The Modern Interior and the Excitation Response: Richard Neutra’s Ocular-centric Phenomenology, School of Architecture and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle, Australia, 2012.