Post 53 –by Gautam Shah

(Lecture series: Space Perception -Article-VIII of 15)



Perceivers establish several orders of relationships with objects referenced in a space. The objects are sensed as real things, recollections, and intriguing mix of both. The real things, also include physical objects and the perceivers themselves. Both are sensed due the environment. Recollections, as remembrances and dreams, derive from the experiences, and are not dependent on the actual environmental conditions or the presence of physical objects. The real things and recollections often get mixed up due to sensorial and psychical aberrations.

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The Relationships between objects in space is seen in many references.

[1]   Objects and the environment form the process of space perception.

The objects and the environment affect each other, and these form the process of space perception. For all humans, affectations are nearly universal, with minor differences due to the physiological conditions (age, sickness, deficiencies, psychical, etc.) and quality of past experiences. Recollections are the impressions of past experiences, but in parts. Recollections occur on cues from the expectations. Expectations and recollections add a new flavour to the space perception.

Our experiences consist of happenings between, 1-real things, 2-real things and metaphysical entities, and 3 between metaphysical entities.


Experiences of First type (between real things) are existential and so manipulable. These are objects that we shift around with sensorial and functional interest. We highlight them by their position (fore-side, backside), comparative placement (near, away, distanced, up, down), controlling the exposure in the space-time (hiding, partially covering, narrowing the window of experience, static, mobile), or by allowing or curtailing the effects of the environment.


Experiences of Second type (between real things and metaphysical entities) occur when certain spatial arrangements and environmental conditions trigger the past associations. Metaphysical entities are already imminent at personal level, but the situational conditions reinforce the experience. Metaphysical elements like, fresh air, moisture, temperature, sound reverberation, absence of background noise, odours, reminds, not only of the past experiences but their associations. Typically sanctimonious spaces, unkept and abandoned spaces carry a personal meaning, and so are sensed with a subjective interest.

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Experiences of Third type (between metaphysical entities) are derivative like, recollections or dreams. These entities have no body and so fuzzy definitions. But the metaphysical elements, can alter the cognition of physical elements. These elements without the body cannot be shifted around and are difficult to recollect in different context. It can be used as theme for new insights into perception. The content is incisive but has limited relevance. The dreams, even if one can recall, have fragile and perishable content.

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[2]   The recognition of relationships distinguishes ‘groups’.

The groups are classes of relationships, between objects and between objects and perceivers. The objects or the perceivers, though not in the reference frame, get included. Non existent things come from the remembrances. The relationships are realized across time and space.

Star formations or constellations were recognized as relationships, where the individual elements were separated in depth (distance) by many light years, each individual element shifting, and yet these were observed as consistent patterns by people across the earth and ages.

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[3]   Objects have relationships among themselves, and with us (the perceivers).

The relationships are of comparisons, contradictions and for equalization. There are some common relationships such as of size, scale, proximity, change, purpose. The objects are perceived in front or back of others, and so relationships emerge due to characteristic nearness or remoteness in time and space. Objects are perceived to be similar, if different in scale, orientation, slightly deformed (stretched, contracted, warped) or state of completeness. Objects have features that are partly distinct or familiar due to recollections of the past, and so perceivers grasp them easily, immediately or distinctly. The capacity to refurbish perception is subjective, and so the composite value of a frame or sequence remains relevant only to the person and the context.

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[4]   Objects are perceived as group, because their position, orientation, shape, size, sensorial qualities, etc. reflect a pattern.

The pattern relates to geometry, spatial scaling or repetitions. The positions of real objects allow recognition of the geometry that is axial or spatial in nature. Usually such a process is difficult, due the effort and time required, but most perceivers have an innate sense of recognizing such patterns. Objects that are distanced from each other may not constitute a pattern, but an object sharply inscribed in memory may do so.


[5]   A group implies that some degree of commonality and diversity exist.

Objects and other things have some commonality within their own classes or types. But we assign common meaning to many diverse things. It is difficult to understand why x and y belonging to different classes, mean same things. These could be a genetic carry-over or a cultural process. Diversity is distinctive and always limited, it translates that everything else is non-diverse or common.


[6]   Using remembrances for characterizing groups in set of objects.

The conception of a nonexistent thing is not possible and so do their recollections. Remembrances cannot occur beyond the reality. So the degree of reality in a set of real objects becomes the only factor for group to emerge. Several recollections of (real) objects happen simultaneously, without any clue of their origin, relevance as of now or in any logical sequence.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

[7]   Objects forming a group and persisting in time have a common fate.

Real objects persist longer in time than recollections. With time, the group characteristics change, because late realizations aided by recollections change the perceptions about the group. In case of dynamic happenings, state of the group composition, moments earlier turn into a recollection But the immediacy of the past depicts the movement direction of the pattern. Such a common fate for all changing things is forbearing. It allows us to interpret the dynamic scenes through the changes in intensities, distances, overlapping, and sensorial aberrations. Objects persisting in time enliven the happening.




Post 50 –by Gautam Shah

(Lecture series: Space Perception -Article-V of 15)


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Objects are sensed as physical things, hyper real recollections and mix of both. Collection of objects random or arranged, reflect relationships at many different levels. The basic relationship that we perceive is the degree of nearness or farness in time and space. These also define the forward-backward in spatial terms, and previous-later positions in time, of the objects. Other relationships that we perceive about objects include diversity and commonality, continuity and separation, complete figures and partly occluded articles, static and dynamic forms.

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The perception of objects occurs through all senses. Some senses, like vision and audio are capable of measuring objects and their distances. But sense of smell, taste or touch are only fuzzily indicative of location and direction, and so do not offer the spatial totality.

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Objects appear as recollections, but without any sequence or time reference. Objects appear as flitting images, without any clue of their relevance or origins. Such recollections seem to be individual ‘frames or shots’ of happenings, but without any distinctive links to the greater whole. The images do not have any concern with the past, present or future but are altered compositions, which perhaps our subconscious expects or desires. The recollections represent intense sensual experiences, but need definitive context, otherwise these can remain sporadic and unrelated incidences.

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The spatial and temporal contexts are the most important aspect of perceiving objects. Spatial context provides a ground for comparison of ‘scenes’. The comparison occurs in terms of size, scale, direction or orientation and nature of exposure to the ‘scene’ (forward, backward, partly occluded). Spatial context emerges from three references, the position of the perceiver, the adjacent objects and environmental effects. The temporal context relates to sequence of happening, duration, rate of change and chances occurrence.

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The spatial and temporal contexts are relevant mainly due to environmental effects. The effects are spatially directional and variable in time. And both of these factors continually create new compositions of objects. Environmental effects mould the experiences. Objects seem closer or far from each other. We tend to see complete figures or forms from sparing details, if we had past encounter with such objects. Similarly we build hyper real bridges of relations or connections between objects that are far distanced from each other, and often out of the scope of perception.

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Objects are marked by conditions that indicate direction. The direction indicators are experienced on objects that are long, short, sharp-edged or rounded, affected on few faces by the environment, and with graphics. The direction indicators in static objects represent potential for movement. Objects that have sequencing motifs such as forms that have overbearing pointers, retreating or advancing repeats, fading or intensifying clarity, varying environmental effects also state directions, and so movements.

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Directions and movements in groups of objects are perceived, when the real, hyper-real and remembrances, all have the same reference frame or datum. Here the reference frame is evident through the features remaining strong and consistent. Environmental effects are directional and so suggest the change when the real and remembered perceptions merge.

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Our perception of objects is always unequal. The unequal experiences help in exacting or blurring a location. The former (exacting a location) is due to the duality of the sensorial nodes like ears and eyes and the later (blurring) is due to synchronicity of two nodes like smell and taste or the widely placed multiple (like pain, temperature, moisture, etc.) tactile experiences over the entire body surface. The unequal perception is due to age, natural proficiencies and experience building exposures.

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One of the remarkable proficiency, natural or gained is about multitasking. Multitasking or multi attendance involves capacity to perceive many things concurrently, using the same or different sensorial nodes. Multitasking also may mean using various body limbs simultaneously.




Post 41 by Gautam Shah (Blog 11  in Lecture Series Space and Human Behaviour)


Habitable  spaces are substantially real and physical, but could also have features that transcend the reality. Such conditions occur because human cognition, sometimes functions ambiguously. Ambiguities in cognitive processes arise due to the past experiences, expectations and the context. Past experiences seamlessly converge the existing. Expectations pre-empt the happening and colour it. The Context is a manifold reference made up not only of the existing but expectations and experiences.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt > Cyborg at En Wikipediaby (https:/

 ● Past experiences: Past experiences have very thin spatial connections and fade out in time reference, creating indistinct recollection. And reality is shrouded in mixed layers.

Expectations: Do not allow one to perceive the reality. Expectations have perhaps a rational base but not as dreams.

Context: If environmental, is an ever-changing phenomenon. The fixed contexts provided by physical objects or the beings have personal relevance. Physical objects in abnormal sizes, scales and distortions like the grotesque forms disturb that placidity, at least initially.

The apotheosis of St. Ignactius at church of St Ignazio > ART by Andra Pozzo (1642-1709) Pozzo dissolved the architectural elements of the nave’s barrel vault while coordinating the storyboard. (Flickr Image by Majanlahti)

The ambiguities in cognitive processes also arise as the Time and Space that separate most elements as unique event gets mixed up to produce incoherent and surprising effects. The elements nominally separated in time and space, are ‘virtually’ juxtaposed in a make-believe world.

Smoke of a .45 ART by Charles M Russel (1864-1925) Wikipedia Image

Time is seen as a measure of change, and Space is perceived for its consistency (or even lack of it) over a time. Primitive man, watching a star and noting its almost intangible movement in the sky, or watching own-self getting old, were percepts in time and space. To note the difference, however, two such distinct frames must be juxtaposed. In case of stars, the images were shrouded in known forms such as animals, humans or objects, to record the change. The ageing process had to be realized as own image, rather then being told. First image perception of own-self in the still water or over a glossy surface was not magical for the ‘other being there’, but for the perplexity of left and right getting reversed.

Spada Gallery Articulated Space for Reality Corridor
Sprada Gallery > Wikipedia image by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta
Section of Sprada Gallery Rome, Wikipedia image by Anamorphose
Plan of Sprada Gallery > Wikipedia image by Anamorphose at French Wikipedia

Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they appear or be imagined. Its physical form is perceived and interpreted by every individual differently due to the mental filters created with the beliefs and experiences. In this sense reality is an extremely personal domain. The Reality, is often differentiated from what is imaginary, unreal, or delusional, such as the dreams, falsehood, fictional, or abstract. Various philosophers have distinguished the reality from the things that are imaginable (but not real).

Battle for Lanka -a scene from Ramayana drawn by Sahibdin 17C > Wikipedia Image

A thing that can be imagined and expressed such as in painting, sculpture, dance, drama, literature, forma of crystals shadows, reflection in water, or movement of a star, are all real. Though to express the unreal or dream, people have created ‘unnerving and illogical scenes’, strange creatures, grotesque forms, and queer built-spaces. Here the ‘truth’ is stripped or morphed out of the normal significance.

Troll Scandinavia
A ‘Troll’ a class of beings in Norse mythology and Scandinavian Folklore > Wikipedia Image

When the real and unreal transcend, there is sense of ‘Avidya’ (lack of knowledge), a Maya as the cause of illusion. Avidya includes confusing the mundane reality to be the only reality, and believing it as a permanent feature, though it is ever changing. The effect of Avidya is to suppress the real nature of things and perceive something else in its place. The unreal is unexplained till it can be recreated, and it becomes real. It is ignorance or misunderstanding of the nature of reality.

The persistence of Memory By Salvador Dali > creating own reality


Make-believe represents an experience created without the full support of the original conditions, such as environment, space configuration, materials or psychological make-up of the observer. A make believe is virtually (nearly) real, but loses its novelty once multiple exposures robe the stunning effect. Such effects though are very productive tools operating with small spread and quick delivery.

Drama stage set in Ostankino Palace > Wikipedia image by Shakko

Make-believe situations manifest everywhere, magical impact of a powerful representation in painting, a captivating form of sculpture, a transparent glass bead or stone crystals, a shadow or black colour hiding a detail. Mahabharat, the classical epic of India discusses of a palace of contradictions, a solid floor looked like water.

Human cognitive capacities combined with specific reach tools, help of the mental processes, and some drugs (hallucinogenic) sense unreal conditions. This occurs due to the ‘ethereal spread of the space and dispersion of time’. Similar unreal conditions and extra ordinary feats also occur under extreme stress situations. An individual instinctively looks for the triggers that caused it.

Between the real and make believe (or virtually real) there has always been something extra, the superfluous. It is an ‘applique decoration’, carrying its own meaning. It is intended to counter the routine or ordinary. Sir John Summerson, the architectural historian calls it ‘surface modulation’, which Architecture had, with some difficulty, liberated itself from ornament, but it has not liberated itself from the fear of ornament’. Superfluous and ornamentation have been explored as space making elements and for manipulation of the reality. The superfluous and ornamentation both have been means for camouflage. If the superfluous were applique, the ornamentation is better integrated. But both are visually very static and have too much metaphorical connection with the past. The shrouded symbolism of the former, and with the later the contempt for the un-explainable interpretation, led to creation of new space making forms.

Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building Chicago > Wikipedia image by Beyond My Ken

Justifications, for the new space making forms were many: Relief from history, cultural corroboration, terrestrial bearing reliance of rational geometry, functionality and essentials of structures, and new spatial realizations. The new datum for modernism for architecture and products, was, ‘form follows function, purity of form and truth to materials’. For abstracted arts and crafts had no reliance on functionality or the materials, and confusion continued through the cubism, surrealism and Dadaism, etc. The process of ‘de-ornamentation’ in post industrial period, allowed much needed exposure for aspects like geometry, functional, structural, and spatial definitions.

Deconstructivism at Dresden Kristallpalast-nigh > Wikipedia Image by Kolossos

Deconstructionists attempted to move away from such constricting or conformist environment. They compromised the geometry of form by abrogating the functional, structural, and spatial aspects of construction. This was first in literature but soon architecture and performing arts joined in. But in architecture one still had to deliver a building standing with the gravity and other forces and in literature and other arts it had to be a deliverable product or a recognizable entity. So in spite of running away, they remained anchored to reality. It also now accepted that ‘not everything that looks odd or abstract is deconstructionism’. The platform beyond deconstructionism had to wait the arrival of the computer to ‘conceive-plan-detail and visualize’ the complex sensorial forms.

The sensorial means of expression are dominantly of visual nature. Computers mediated, realities have been of visual perception, and to a very small extent of touch and aural experience. Some day the virtual reality will also include sensorial experiences, like smell.

Kathakali Dance of India, Wikipedia image by Joseph Lazer

Virtual reality is distinguished from the experience of actuality that occurs with or without the physical setting. Participants are never in doubt about the enactment and experiences of it. Historically VR applications in arts, crafts, performing arts, literature and architecture, have been sensory supplements for enhancing the experience. The explanatory or verbal support, dialogue delivery, musical effects, variation of illumination, metred recitations, drawn backdrops have been traditional virtual means.

Designers supplement design experience with catalogues, charts, samples and parallel experiences > Pixabay Image by pozytywnewnetrza

Interior Designers talk of materials’ feel with samples. The tactile experience of the carpet, curtain or stone floor still lacks the real spatial feel. Here the designer has to resort to parallels of experiences. Some advanced, haptic systems now include tactile information, generally known as force feedback in medical, gaming and military applications. There are no tools to provide the audio experience of the designed space, such as the drawing room, auditorium, corridor or lounge.

Some of the Virtual artifacts include: Toilet seats, treadmills, gaming devices like mouse, wired gloves, artificial limbs, spectacles, hearing devices, simulators for training, air port landing systems, synthetic cornea, robots and robotic pets, remote surgical tools and drones. Intelligent homes (such as one by Bill Gates) include such artifacts.

The computer-aided tools augment the virtuality of the reality. These simultaneously offer the reality and augmented virtuality. One never knows which facet is being perceived impressionistically by the client. Such simulated reality by computer, are indistinguishable from the ‘true’ reality, and may in future may use hyper tools to directly affect the sub conscious mind.

Computer generated reality > Wikipedia Image by Gilles Tran

Simulated reality, by contrast, would be affecting the mind where it needs to be impressed. In brain-computer interfaces, data is exchanged and impression is implanted. A ‘person to brain interface’ helps in executing the tasks by getting around the conscious blocks, such as the phobias, fear of public speaking, inhibitions, and vagaries of awareness and consciousness. The Matrix movies feature an intermingled type of simulation, of human minds and sentient software programmes that govern various aspects of the computed realm.

The real and the virtual, overlap as the augmented reality. Here the real is augmented by the virtual, and the virtual is proffered by selective (and confirming) portions of the real. Such augmented virtuality has no seams of real or unreal. The perception process is often reinforced with psychological support. Clients unconvinced by a presentation are confirmed with persuasive talk.

Augmented reality for objects on display in museums > Wikipedia image by Kippelboy

Nominally augmentation occurs in real-time, and in one of the two basic frames, the context is rational or literal. It has till now a distinctive identity, where the additional information about the environment and its objects is overlaid or under-laid with reference to the base frame. But this differentiation is likely to diminish in near future. The augmented reality is going a step further by including zoom-in and out effects to show respectively details and overall perspective views. This is further augmented by use of wider scope and panoramic views. The usual experience with glass-based lenses, of the differential clarity between foreground and background can be eliminated with use of charged couple devices.

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Reality and mediated reality are often indistinguishable > Rescue work for sunken battleship USS West Virginia > Wikipedia image

Artificial Reality (AR) is considered as something that is indistinguishable from reality. It is so because the means are subtle or process is obvious. Simulated reality manifests through the means or tools of simulation. The tools created an environment of limited spread and duration, within which setting an adjusted realm is evident. One may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. Augmented reality (AR also called a mediated reality) is a physical and real-world environment whose components are added upon by other input of sensorial nature to enhance their effects. These could be additional information like charts, maps, enlargements, compression, alternative views, colour filtering or masking. All these are mainly visual effects. Augmented reality could have other sensorial effects, such as enhanced haptic reality (touch related). It is used for vibrating alert in a cell phone, blood pressure measuring instrument to sense the blood flow through a vein and also the pulse rate, in remote sales outlets to let a customer gets the feel of material or product.

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Phantom sounds -augmented reality

Augmented reality (mainly with digital media) has its origins as early as the 1950s, and has progressed with virtual reality since then, but it’s most significant advanced have been since the mid 1990s. In earlier days the play was interpreted by the interpreter or Sutradhar (conductor in Sanskrit). It could be simplistic language translation, elaboration of complex philosophical content, or bridging of time elements. These interventions augmented the reality being enacted, by compacting the time-space. In the bi-scope or silent movie era, the story and music were played live. Foreign language movies, TV plays, programmes and presentations, carry sub titles for translated dialogues or audio, video and textual augmentative effects.

Bill Boards -augmented reality > Wikipedia image by Fransisco Diez from New Jersey USA

Non geographic communities on Internet, like Face book, Tweeter, Linked-in, etc. are examples of virtual societies. The interpersonal relationships that occur here are not in a physical space or environment, and the participant at the prime end is a human being but at the other end could also be ‘unreal’ like a robotic computer. Behaviour interpreters that can perceive expression, through speech, use of language structures, facial gestures, micro changes in postures, blood pressure, muscle and joint movements, will be a step beyond the current state of telephony.

Street Museum App on Cheapside
Time Space seamless exchange > Street Museum App on Cheapside Flickr Image by Alan Levine

Variety of devices, such as mobiles, i-pads, computers, wrist watches, etc. use computer-generated sounds, graphics or video clips for additional information about products, spaces and places. Currently these are the compilations as offered by the device manufacturer, or application providers. Many of these manifest as customized offers, but none recognizes the changing needs or moods. Artificial intelligence will automatically figure out the behaviour of the subject (the user), and accordingly augment the experience of reality.


This is the ELEVENTH lecture in the series Space and Human Behaviour for Winter semester, 2017, at Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India.