The first time I reacted to the light, I wasn’t even born.
The first time I opened my eyes I still didn’t know, but that blinding light was already beginning to define my world.
Of course, without apparent effort (who can remember the hard work done in the first few months of life?), through my eyes I was starting to know, and recognize my environment.
The fixed points and the occasional visions.
Man with a Moving Camera, 1929
The first time I opened my eyes I must have seen something surprising, who knows what it was …
The first time I covered them instead, for sure it must have been because I was afraid, and I hoped the reason for the terror would disappear with its image.
So we’ve had all thousands of those first time. Actually, it is still like this daily, for all of us living beings, human and otherwise.
Our eyes continually offer us new stimuli, which different areas of our brain collect, interpret, sort and reconstruct, relating them to the archive of all our past perceptions. With the primary objective of surviving and, in socially evolved contexts such as ours, surviving and prospering.
After all, that’s why we came into the world.
Based on what we see (but let it be clearly said: what we feel, touch, smell; the whole of our perceptions) we continually redefine our mental categories, so our thoughts and actions, coordinating an infinite dance in which we play every second according to scores, choreographies, dancers and scenes and of which no, we are not really the directors.
Not entirely at least. Why?
Because whatever we do in our present, whether it’s breathing or driving, dodging a danger, kissing or taking any decision, strange to believe, but our brains have already decided for us for quite some time, almost half a second before of our awareness.
That is, the decisions we believe we make based on what we see and hear, in reality we make them based on what we have already perceived in the past, and somehow it has proved useful, both in our personal experience and in the broader one of human evolutionary history.
Not only our personal experience but our family experience, that of the social context in which we live, of the genetic heritage that we pass on, refining it from generation to generation.
It seems incredible yet scientists tell us that it is true: only a tenth of what we see, of the image of the World we have, derives from a direct response to visual stimuli.
All the rest are relationships, more or less solid and trafficked connections between different areas of our brain covered by electrical discharges and chemical molecules.
And the more these paths are repeated and crystallized, the more our visions will be rooted, and with them our beliefs and therefore associated actions and behaviors.
The good thing, however, and there is more than one, is that it is also possible to deviate from these paths, enrich them with other perspectives and possibilities, opening up at every opportunity and context to a new choice option.
Opening up to new visions and points of view, literally and metaphorically, always constitutes additional equipment in our baggage of indirect experiences which, if not useful for the immediate, will be useful for the next hour, that is, the rest of our lives.
To borrow other eyes to look at the World, isn’t that what a photograph does?
The framing of a portion of time and space; the physical response that analog or digital sensors, a surrogate of our eyes, return to the light spectrum that affects them. A reflected image of the light of the world isolated from the context that offers itself to our eyes, beyond the intentions and awareness of who or what shoot that instant.
Which we are used to considering as reality.
Universal in its partiality, able to easily overcome every linguistic and territorial boundary, billions of pictures circulating around us every day. Micro tiles that form and enrich the mosaic of the personal image of the World of each of us.