Adjusting to Perceptual errors: Gray Spaces

September 30, 2014

Adjusting to perceptual errors: Gray Spaces F

‘Feminist Technology what a powerful and provocative concept; both immediately comprehensible and puzzling, simple on the face of it, yet complex.’

White's illusion.

White’s illusion.

Both of these grey rectangles reflect the same amount of light, but because of the self organising principles of our living eyes the grey rectangles in accordance with their visual background (white or black) are responding to the construction of our eyes. So that what we ‘sense’ intuitively and automatically is merely a sort of lovely error which we can overcome through consciousness.

I think these sort of intuitive sensual errors are the stuff of everyday life and choices.

Linda. A Layne introduction is both complicated and enlightening. I think her main premise is that what is possible for some must be made possible for all. Especially the correction of perceptual errors which seem to be ubiquitous in our biological systems ,political concepts which then cater and create our designed products. ‘Feminist technologies must “empower woman,” but we soon realised this was not as simple a criterion as it first seemed.

Women are not the same. Must a feminist technology empower all women and disempower others? This quote speaks of human relativity & the limits placed on design because of place, time and culture. And i don’t think these perceptual -conceptual errors are always noticed retroactively. ‘Gorenstein observed, ‘while recognising the utilitarian benefit of the phone to women, making them more mobile and less housebound,’ such phones appear to be an example of manufactures realising that they had designed their product in the first place for men, not for people. Here we are presented with a conceptual-design error.

It is true that women are physically different from men yet aesthetically different? This question is perfectly stated. In what way do our conceptual errors affect our design choices? Both personally, the clothes we wear, and professionally , the objects we create? But perhaps what we can conceive as real has been implemented in our consciousness by the visual medium and limits of our very own culture? Culture being the conceptual backgrounds in which we view the two grey boxes. Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 12.50.17 ‘More promising technological innovations are those that enable women to enter and do their best in professions that had traditionally been held by men and which for the necessary equipment had been designed to fit men’s bodies.’ Yet she continues “ More promising are innovations that adapt a technology designed for and used by men so that also women may use it. However, these cases, the overall effects on women must be considered. Even technology that improves things for some woman may not qualify as feminist if it does so in a way that perpetuates the gender gap.

This quote i think establishes what feminist technology can be: Positioning technology to create equal opportunities in all fields. Thereby challenging hegemonic anatomical masculinity.

So that feminist design cannot only cater to female aesthetics (whatever that means) but to female everyday anatomical needs, surpassing everyday problems (breastfeeding) and at the same time supplementing awareness by making us aware of errors in perception that create misguided and maladaptive design solutions such as the ‘pink it and shrink it approach.’

I think that we can visualise the gender gap using White’s illusion, and it can therefore make a narrative visually clear and guide us in understanding how we perceive that women are different from men and then how ‘they’ should therefore be treated accordingly. Despite the fact that the differences may or may not be actually real, simply aesthetic and overcome by technology.

White’s Illusion, which is produced by the anatomical quirks in our perception, highlights the rather common need to differentiate in a binary mode, especially at the visual level, so that what is common to both becomes lost when we focus on the differences. Especially in the pursuit of profits or political power.

Yet the illusion of differences is both an illusion and is also not an illusion. The landscape or site of the Feminist question lies in anatomy but also in the conceptual realm. The difference is real to the mind but not to reality. So is the difference within human experience not real at all? That is to state: That despite the truth, we can perceive the unreal. In-fact we MUST.

The theoretical frame work of the perception of the man-made, which is the illusion of different grey squares, coincides with the idea of the Anthropocene. At what point do our perceptual errors directly affect our design solutions which then directly effect the world around us?  Either way this illusion shows that perceptual illusions even those that are anatomically ingrained into us can be surpassed. If the anthropocene is man made then the problem and solution are also within us. Just as White’s illusion is.


One Response to “Adjusting to Perceptual errors: Gray Spaces”

  1. These are thoughtful reflections on feminist technology and the challenges of acknowledging gender difference, while also searching for what we share (across the gender divide), what we have in common. You state the problem and the solution are within us (much as perception is supposed to be on some accounts): but who are we, and do we really have so much control over the environments that form us as much as we form them? And surely perception is stimulated by an outside world suggesting some relation that extends beyond us? Perhaps the solution is rather amidst our relations, and through respecting the ripples of affect we create in mental, social and environmental settings. Donna Haraway is useful here (see ‘Situated Knowledge in readings from Meeting 01), she speaks of the power of ‘partial vision’ to achieve objectivity, that partial vision, or your specific point of view is less a disadvantage than a way of seeing worlds in order to act in them in discrete and careful ways alongside others who see a shared world differently. I’m curious to see what specific environment-world you will focus on when further deliberating on these questions?

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