Recipes for seeing

Connecting with one another at the level of procedure, using simple materials to generate replicable experiences. 
this page for a list of common ingredients.

Before you get started, see this guide to preparing recipes, or revisit it along the way. 

Recipe 1: Edgeworks
Edges are the pencil lines we use to create perceptual sketches. We find them in regions of contrast, and sometimes, where there is none: notice how your mind can also draw an edge to complete an illusory contour. Edges can be hard or soft, stimulatory or semantic, spatial or temporal, or any combination of these. They mean many things at once. Like the first mark on a white page, an edge holds infinite potential. 

1) Find or create a physical edge that transforms in meaning.
2) Find or create an edge drawn by the mind.
Prepare for Thursday, 9.10

Recipe 2: Salt and Pepper – Cooking with Bright and Dark 

This week’s recipes draw from the simplest ingredients: relative bright and dark. ‘Relative’ because bright only has meaning relative to not-bright. And because bright and dark are relative, one value of brightness can be great or small in different contexts. In fact, bright can be dark, and dark, bright—it all depends on context. For example, in a dimly lit room, the surface of a book catching a little moonlight can be bright relative to the dark surround, or that same square of brightness can be dark if the surround is “turned up”. 
From these two interdependent ingredients, bright and dark, we can make anything in perception, from simple textures and edges, to shapes, solids and scenes composed of complex three-dimensional forms and depth. It all depends on the units you choose, how you arrange them, blend them, etc.
The overall objective of this week’s recipes is to experience—and share experiences—of bright and dark as units of relative value that can be mixed, ordered, extended, shaped to create a wide range of perceptions, from a single point of difference, to an intricate 3D landscape. For example, look at this photo:

It is a mix of bright and dark: some hard edges, gradients, blobs and rectilinear shapes. Is it a random collection of bright and dark, or is it organized such that you perceive textures, surfaces, shapes, even objects and depth? One can perceive it as both. Even sections of the image can look like “nothing”, just mottled bright and dark, or, an ordered bright/dark pattern that activates perception of, e.g., a convex surface. Now, look at this video: 


The blotches, lines, pools of bright and dark move and grow in relationships that create peaks and valleys in perception, a changing 3D landscape, or one can see just flat pattern changes.

Now grab the shakers:

Texture Sauce
In a video clip, sprinkle, smear, shake, etc. bright and dark to create a surface of changing texture

Gradient Rise and Fall
In a video clip, shift a gradient in ramp, range or orientation to generate perception of changing depth 

Shape Bake
Put together bright and dark shapes that read as flat pattern or complex three-dimensional structure.

Prepare for Thursday, 9.17

Recipe 3: Essen, Essen! See Size, Shape and Speed*

Size, shape and speed are major ingredients in the perception of depth and motion. Hikers on the mountain ridge look like ants; the circle of your coffee cup becomes a squat ellipse when lifted to your lips; a boat on the horizon moves super slowly. These are pronounced examples. If you look carefully at the world right around you, you’ll notice countless, subtle transformations of size, shape and speed, in action or memory; the trapezoidal face of the book is foreshortened relative to the rectangle in prior experience. Even stereopsis, the fusing of input from the two eyes into a single depth image, depends on difference.



Size, shape and speed transformations, micro and macro, define the spatial and temporal structure of our visual world. We so readily read these transformations as depth and motion that we don’t see them (usually).

Essen, Essen!

FInd or create a featureless visual environment. Add size, shape and speed and manipulate.  Serve up three environments of sculpted spatial and temporal structures.
Prepare for Thursday, 9.24


*Famous hangout S & S delicatessen at Inman Square, Cambridge is so named because the original German owners implored guests to “Essen, essen!” (eat, eat!), leading people to call the deli “S and S”.