Optical Actualities

January 16, 2009

Enantiomorphic Purple light – a suggestion


 Trisoctahedron crystal symmetry


The three-dimensionality of the Necker cube is an actual three dimensional space, when considering the stereoscopic optics of the eyes. The necker cube and other three dimensional “optical illusions”, are actually three-dimensional. The enantiomorphic (or stereoscopic) vision, is an unresolved tension between disparate dissimilars (like words or lines) that only become three dimensional, when the literary mind is suspended from the stereoscopic vision of the eyes. We can see this, because the abstract lines of the necker cube refer to nothing. They are uncontaminated by “concepts”. It might be said, that they enter the eyes without entering the mind. It only becomes more apparantly three-dimensional, when the content (or the literary mind) no longer has any power over the abstract…

Smithson actually describes his enantiomorphic vision as stereoscopic vision here:

Smithson’s Steoscopic Vision:

“The dual Globes that constitute our eyes are the generators of our sense of the third dimension. Each eyeball contains a retina that functions like a photographic plate inside a spheroid camera. Rays of light penetrate the transparent cornea, the pupil, the crystalline lense and the vitreous body until they reach the end…[The eyes] percieve through a mental artiface of directions without determined distances, which in turn gives the illusion of infinite spaces… The binocular focus of our eyes converges on a single object and gives us the illusion of oneness, so that we tend to forget the actual stereoscopic vision of our eyes or what I will call ‘enantiomorphic vision’ – that is seeing double… In [Enantiomorphic Chambers – a work of Smithsons], the vanishing point is split or the center of convergence is excluded, and the two chambers face each other at oblique angles, which in turn causes a set of three reflections in each of the two obliquely placed mirrors. A symmetrical division into two equal parts is what makes it enantiomorphic; this division also exists in certain crystalline structures” – Smithson, “Pointless Vanishing Points (1967)” (my “enhancements”)

The thing that I find interesting is that the illusion of oneness, is a “binocular convergence on an object”. It is a type of binocular focus, an adjustment of the “vitreous body” to make literal sense out of an actual stereoscopic vision. It is the literal sense of vanishing points, upon convergence of the eyes, that allows us to see the objects as whole, when (for Smithson at least) the objects were “pointless”, arrayed in symetrical reflections in the enantiomorphic chambers of the eyes. In this nonsite, or indoor earthwork by Smithson, the subtraction of the literalness of vision – the act of binocular communion on an object is taken out. What is left, is actual stereoscopic vision. This was, in part, the significance of the crystalline for Smithson.

The coheseive focussed literalness is an interference of the analytical mind, to use my vocabulary, whereas the actual mirrored geometries of enantiomorphic vision are not coheseive. The literal points – the illusory morphology of the landscape – become pointless. This is an enantiomorphic vision, where the mirrored oblique reflections form perfect symetries, where the literal points of reference shatter into an array of matter, with no reference points. Without the literal (analytical) mind, the vanishing points, the communion of objects disintegrates. The object is no longer a whole, but an array of perfectly symetrical refractive and reflective light, like in certain crystal structures. The enantiomorphic vision is “foundational” to Smithson’s aesthetics. It is a way of seeing without the literal mind interfereing. (see above post # 382 on literalness) This is stereoscopic vision – the actual. For every point in the illusory infinite space (an infinite number of literal points), the points, when viewed enantiomorphically (or stereoscopically) disintegrate every point into two. It is an unfeasable image. But the literal mind is feasable as the “fused image” in stereoscopic vision, as James P. C. Southall diagrams in his, Introduction to Phisiological Optics (1961):


Smithson’s superimposed notes are in red. (I had to reproduce this in photoshop, because the internet didn’t supply the image for me.)

The “illusionistic space” is the fused image, if you consider this diagram. The fused image is the picture plane, or the stereoscopic vision combined. This is an illusion. The note “solid time” is where the images are enantiomorphed into seperate “pictures”. Although, Smithson’s stereoscopic vision differs from this one, in that the literal mind, when suspended from vision, does not result in pictures, but oblique angular refractive, symetrical reflections of light that double the already infinite vanishing points. The fused image of the photographic eye, and the literal mind, make the seen world appear cohesevely as a whole of infinite points, where the enantiomorphic vision allows the world to appear as an infinite number of “double points” making the world no longer appear cohesive at all, but rather ambiguous, and scattered.

So literacy, is an illusory impediment of the mind onto the senses. But, when one looks at things without reading them, without a categorical containment of the mind, it becomes a three-dimensional power struggle because of the disparate dissimilars in the enantiomorphically seen world. So, two dimensions is the illusion, considering that it is a product of the interference of the literary mind with the eyes. And three dimensions is the actual, considering it is percieved when the literal mind is lifted.


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