Transmission in Motion


“It’s time to nut up or shut up: can science catch up with technology?” – Alexandra Kinevskaya

For as long as humanity existed, people have been occupied with the essence of things around them. Philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers tried to understand the world since the ancient times, looking up at the sky, at nature, at art to find the answers to the most fundamental questions. Later many other scientists studied the air, the Earth, the matter to reveal life’s secrets. Not so long ago, has humanity turned to the phenomenon of perception and added a human being himself into the equation. We started taking a closer look at why do we see what we see instead of just what we see, to grasp how the object we interact with becomes in our minds what we understand it to be.

From the beginning of the nineteenth century a science of vision will tend to mean increasingly an interrogation of the makeup of the human subject, rather than of the mechanics of light and optical transmission. It is a moment when the visible escapes from the timeless incorporeal order of the camera obscura and becomes lodged in another apparatus, within the unstable physiology and temporality of the human body (Crary, Jonathan 45, 1988).

Only recently we started connecting the dots between optical phenomena and its physical aspect, psychology and neuroscience, seeing the bigger picture, where the information our brain gets depends not only on how the light behaves but also on how our mind and brain work[1] or realized that a lot of issues regarding human vision embedded in neurology and psychology of the process rather than some simple optic phenomena[2].

But when it comes to the modern era, there are myriads of new sensory stimuli: screens of various sizes, new sounds and noises, new ways of living life online and interacting with the digital world around us.

The environments set up by different media are not just containers for people; they are processes which shape people (Culkin, J. M. 51, 1967).

The digital environment around us unravels faster than we can study its impact on us. We opened a laptop and started reading off our phones and giving tables to children to play with before we knew what it might do to our perception and behaviour, what impact could it have on our lives and our thought process. Most importantly, we learned of how great of a change this would be for our understanding of the world only after we completely engaged with this revolutionary stream of technologies and made it a big part of our lives.

I believe, at this moment, it is crucial for scientists of all, natural, exact and humanities fields to come together in an interdisciplinary approach to catch up with the technological evolution in order to understand not just the concept and commodity of various inventions, but the impact they will have on humankind in order to give people tools to prepare themselves for the change to come. And not just on the personal, but on the institutional level, as by the time we will have adjusted our systems and ways of living to the changes we encountered, they will already have become irrelevant and outdated. We need to keep the ability to fit in the world that we ourselves create without feeling inadequate and confused so that the digital changes will indeed be evolution that propels the world and not the revolution that shows it its dysfunctionality.

[1] Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, Kang Lee, Seeing Jesus in toast: Neural and behavioral correlates of face pareidolia, Cortex, Volume 53, 2014, Pages 60-77