Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hidden realities 1 - Webcam seeing

Slow changes
Modern seeing
You have all done this yourself. This is nothing new. Anyone with a webcam and a graphics program has done this before. But is is remarkable anyway.
The remarkable difference between the human eye and the camera eye. The difference in sensitivity, the difference in patience and attention span.
One hundred years ago this would not have been possible. You could not compare pictures of the sky by placing them alongside each other. You would have to use your memory. Or sketch the sky. Looking at looking was  more imprecise in those days.
Vague structures
Structures in the sky
A grey and relatively boring winter's day. Stratocumulus clouds. A dark grey day, like the Breughel painting with the hunters. But even this homogeneous-looking sky has its subtle changes. They happen too slowly to notice. But over a period of 30 minutes the changes are strikingly obvious. Changes in colour and changes in texture. And we can enhance the subtle sky structures to make them monumental and looming.
A friend of mine was amazed after watching Avatar. He couldn't stop talking about the floating mountains. Then I said to him: ‘Man, your planet has huge mountains of water. Water! They float above your head every day and when they turn into rain, they contribute to the cycle of the most important liquid to your existence’. Most people go around without realizing the complexity, wonder and graciousness that a cloud is. Indeed, as Cecil Adams writes, “a good sized cumulonimbus cloud, or thunderhead, has a mass of roughly four billion kilograms per cloud.” 
Reveal the invisible
And even non-existing structure can be made visible in the sky. UFO's and amoeba-like entities. Who says they don't exist? Maybe we can see them everywhere once we're properly sensitized.
TRAVERTINE ISLANDS, also called the Floating Islands, a number of large masses of stone that float in the region fifteen miles over the surface of the Earth. Each island is of a different kind of stone, and the inhabitants make sure to float them in whatever camouflage they can manage — white limestone islands float among white clouds, the dark basalt islands floating among black thunderheads, and so forth.
(R.A. Lafferty, "Nor Limestone Islands," in Universe I, New York, 1971)
Cloud atlas
Luke Howard

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