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Palimpsests, or 'the eye is the swindler of the brain.'
"A faith in images has turned bad. The rarefaction of the image begins when the twin acts, seeing and showing, are no longer natural … Then it's up to us to imagine what we no longer see … Imagination is the ghost of the image. It is our bitter victory." (Serge Daney)What might be said of images might also be said of vision itself. Its history so entangled in speculation, its function so enveloped by science, its 'activity' so tangled up in theory, its meaning so besieged by conjecture, that the links between perceptibility and vision, recognition and representation, cause and effect in the visual sphere, fall somewhere between cipher and enigma. Surely no longer a mere optical system, perceptibility and the visual can no longer be understood as performing more-or-less mimetic operations.
The line between sensation, perception, and information has become blurred by metaphors of representation that confound traditional cause-effect models. "The trouble with this reasoning as applied to mental images," Ned Block writes, "is that we don't see them." (though PET and MRI scans of near-real-time cognitive activity are already being applied to this problem). Indeed as cognitive science investigates perceptibility, the intricate issues of delineating any form of standardized perceptibility are themselves posed as significant problems.
Implicit in the cognitive theory of images is more than a reception theory (that assesses effect) but also conceptions of intentionality, subjectivity, storage and retrieval (we used to say memory and recall). Hence a shaky reliance on the computational metaphor of the brain as parallel processor, the synaptic system as encoder, and the "image" as a kind of display. Think of Deleuze's remark that "the brain is the screen." And while a deep and far-reaching debate is raging in the neurosciences about stimulus, attention, perception, retention and processing, it is itself entangled in wildly contested presumptions about the normative or homogeneous conditions that root the differences between the perceptible, the image and the mnemonic. And if the normative conditions are an enigma, one can only speculate about the potentials of perceptual systems that are anomalous, flawed, delusional, damaged, or merely different.
Malperception is itself a cipher, 'disorders' a judgment on perceptual differences that profoundly challenge notions that perceptibility has any kind of collective or unanimous status, that a striking 'disorder' like logophrenia signifies less than a radical expansion of the understanding of the cognitive systems ability to imagine far more than the stimulus provides, that perceptibility, in the cognitive sense, is not merely reflexive, but re-functioned, loaded with accumulated memory, denied its existence as mere what or simple that. Pictorial hierarchies, representational 'perspectives,' recognition patterns, … these paradoxes don't fall outside the field of perceptibility and rather form the instable core of an agreed upon reality that isn't.
- Tim Druckrey, 02.12.2007