PERCEPTION

 

Our bodies and movements arc in constant interaction with the environment; the world and the self inform and redefine each other constantly. The percept of the body and the image of the world turn into one single continuous existential experience; there is no body separate from its domicile in space, and there is no space unrelated to the unconscious image of the perceiving self. Juhani Pallasmaa

How often are you aware of all conditions that are involved in the evaluation of your experience? Right now during the reading these lines, your brain is analyzing information from the text, but at the same time it collects a diverse data from the space that surrounds you. The structure of the paper that you are touching, the possible subtle smell of the ink from print on this page, the temperature in the room, the intensity of light and many more. However, our perception can be influenced by many factors, we know, for example that how we feel affects what we see, and that music can affect the way we perceive facial expressions. What is happening is more than just passive reception of information. Perception is an active process. Stimulation of sensory neurons transfer the information to our brain where it is evaluated and created a response in the way of physical or mental action. This is the time when our presumptions and conclusions are being born, accompanied by feelings from all arrived information.

ANNA_FELICIA
ANNA_FELICIA – audio walk installation, 2015
The size of the installation exactly copies a measurements of one room of red light houseboat district (closed in 2013, Utrecht, NL). The size and equipment of the room represents any kind of other living space. The set up is very simple and abstract. Before you enter the installation, you read letters from Anna, that are addressed to her mother. In the audio walk you get to know ANNA’s ordinary day. At this point you are encountering with FELICIA, working in red light district. That’s a shifting point for spectator’s imagination. The aim was to show up how our prejudices based on our collective memory change the space.

Since our sensory organs first have started to function we do not stop to observe the world, our way of life and each other. In fact, it is our real nature to observe. We all are discovering different possibilities. The life is changing very fast, we are changing and our perception as well. That’s why you may have a diverse experience of the same book after several readings. And I would like to point out that perception is not only a very complex cognitive process, but is more or less connected to our memories as well. It turns out that our brains uses the same intelligent guessing process to reconstruct the past, in addition to using it help perceive the world. Memory itself is not like a video-recording, with a moment-by-moment sensory image. In fact, it’s more like a puzzle: we piece together our memories, based on both what we actually remember and what seems most likely given our knowledge of the world. Just as we make educated guesses in perception, our minds best educated guesses help “fill in the gaps” of memory, reconstructing the most plausible picture of what happened in our past.

In the process of perception, the wide range of stimuli flowing into the brain at any one time is filtered on the basis of what the brain already knows. Wolf Singer

Applying it to theatre space, we could say that: If we admit that our perception of the space is influenced by things that we already know, then the space itself becomes more neutral. Therefore, it is the audience who during the watching creates an image, a function and a story about the space. It is the abstraction that engages the viewer and allowing to complete the uncompleted.