Landscape perceptions and experiences

The aims of this blog is
1) to gather material which helps us to view 'Landscape' from many different perspectives (Science, Phenomenology, Aesthetics, Ethics etc)
2) and secondly to record 'Landscape experiences' from our workshops (Reports) and my own experiences (Diary).
For our workshops see our website

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rain: Optical ilusion or thinking mistake?

 Every evening I take my dog  for a walk down the drive and during such a walk I always look around and that evening I was stopped in my tracks. It was fairly dark, could not see any colours, but only grey and black shades. The hills were totally black,  the sky was grey and there was one small 'flattish' cloud and I knew it was situated above a high mountain, which itself I could not see. However there was rain coming from that cloud or at least, that is what I thought.
Bad drawing!
However I felt there was something wrong (with my judgement!). This was not a raincloud. What does a rain cloud look like? Also the whole atmosphere was such that rain didn't fit into the whole picture.
Then suddenly I 'saw' that it were treetops. Was it also the form of the tree lines which were the wrong shape?
If I would have moved my head left and then right then I would have noticed that the black lines from the tree tops would have moved in relation to the cloud behind and would have been able to judge that those lines where nearer to me than the cloud, but I didn't think about that.
The next day I went to the same place and took a photo.
Next day

This time it was overcast, but most likely you can imagine, how one comes to the above experience of 'seeing' rain.

But is this seeing? In actual fact no. You can only think it as you see only shades of colour and because the patterns correspond with the pattern of a 'cloud with rain', you put the two together.

And in fact this is with many optical illusions. Mostly they are thinking mistakes or we are not aware of how our eyes work and in those instances we have to investigate (think and experiment) how the  illusion comes about.
And anyway, how do we know it is an illusion? Once we understand it, it is not an illusion anymore!

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