Bioptical effects, definitions
The Paired off Visual Signal Liviu Iliescu
Out of the complex amount of writings related to vision, I have tried to detect the trends that might help in justifying the application of bioptical modalities to plastic arts.
I think that the bioptical methods suggested by me enhance the possibilities to introduce some of the findings of those studies into plastic arts.
The main phenomena of visual perception, as concerns the prospects of diversifying or increasing the effects in plastic arts are: binocular rivalry, colour fusion and stereoscopy.
Worthy of mention are some achievements, such as : Salvador Dali's stereoscopic paintings made in the seventies (figure 2.5); the application of multistable perception (the Necker cube) to several compositions by Victor Vasarely (figure 2.3); stereoscopic effects in the autostereograms assigned to Christopher Tyler (1990, rendered popular as the "Magic Eye" - see figure 3.1 from Wikipedia).
The bioptical modalities suggested by me permit to introduce the multiple perceptual effects of binocular rivalry. These effects were discovered and studied on tests having no artistic content. The importance of increasing psychic influence by introducing tests in compositions of plastic art is well known, whenever necessary, I associate to binocular rivalry paired off signs, which induce stereoscopic signals.
In addition to multiplying means of communication in plastic arts by emotional channels, bioptical art also provides the important possibility to apply bioptical compositions to psychotherapy. These compositions trigger generally primitive sensations, which induce experiences practically independent of the patient's intellectual level.
I list below some definitions specific to bioptical art, with a view to providing a guide for composition-making technique. These definitions might coincide with or contradict the definitions acknowledged for the description of phenomena of binocular vision. I thought them appropriate for the experiments made by me when creating plastic art compositions.
AD-HOC EDUCATIONAL ATMOSPHERE Means by which the recipient-subjects are educated and brought closer to the meanings and techniques of an artistic current (bioptical art included).
ALEATORY STATE State of uncertainty in thought, emotions and early creations (e.g. in visual arts), oriented to an idea or subject before reaching organized statements. The aleatory state favours inspiration.
BIOPTICAL ANTI SPACE Modalities which introduce retinal disparities accepted by binocular vision, resulting in the perception of spaces that contradict the currently seen surrounding space, for instance, reversal of the colour perspective and association of contradictory vanishing lines. E.g. reversal of daylight chromatic perspective (figure 3.2): a sequence of similar triangles, which are bigger towards the horizon, coloured in blue, then in green, then in red towards the horizon. (Figure 3.3 comparatively shows the normal perspective from the surrounding space). As against conventional painting, with reversed vanishing lines, in bioptical pictures triangles are perceived as being actually placed in a different space.
Stereogram (arranged for crossed-eye viewing)
Stereogram (arranged for crossed-eye viewing)
BIOPTICAL DEVICE Small periscope-like device, made up of two mirrors - one being adjustable - , placed in front of one eye.
BISPACE IN ART Group of stimuli (lines and colour patches) evoking different images for either eye in part. In bioptical vision, one successively perceives a series of forms or another, representing a system of two coexisting spaces. For instance, one may alternatively perceive a series of triangles and then a series of squares, as a result of "binocular rivalry".
COLOUR FUSION WITH MARKS Psychic response to watching a coloured biform (a form for the left eye and another one for the right eye, having different colours), when in the coloured fields a mark of the same colour is inscribed; a line or a spot of the same colour, but different from the colours of the two fields). Coloured marks result in the perception of a resultant colour. In some cases rivalry fluctuations are ruled out.
DYNAMICS OF SPACE DEPTH Stereoscopic effects in bioptical art, by which composition elements are perceived as being placed in a space which becomes deeper with visual accommodation, within a lapse of time ranging to a few minutes. Elements leading to accommodation with time succession may be designed. The artist also acquires a role of "stage director". Therefore, the apparent modifications of depths in time are due to static forms.
ENTROPY IN PLASTIC ARTS State of uncertainty, of vagueness in the intention of imparting the emotional content of a composition. Global state involving: the artist who cannot express his feelings accurately; the work of art which does not materialize the artist's intention; the recipient-subject who has not received the emotional message or who has no adequate psychic structure to receive it. For the recipient-subject, the "uncertainty" of informatics changes its meaning from "I don't know what I see" into "What I see does not make me feel something special".
In  I presented some considerations on the possible understanding of the emotional transfer from the artist to the recipient-subject. In this respect, I think that the notions of entropy and redundancy may be introduced into the visual arts, as has recently been suggested by Max Bense and Siegfried Maser, who transferred them from the theory of information, taking into account the estimation of the message relatively to signs and meanings. I have tried to modify the acceptations introduced by those authors, by emphasizing affectivity more than meanings. I have taken into account especially the results of the bioptical experiments performed by me, finding that the nonrepresentational, the colours, the ensemble of lines and in general the composition, provide strong and unexpected emotional effects. The bioptical art offered by me is at least an attempt to escape from the zone of satiety where abstract art seems to sink at present. "Stimulated abstractization" refers to the modalities that lead to abstract compositions, using the procedures of bioptical art. In this connection I have suggested, among others, to pass from the state of inspiration recorded by the artist in a written text to the forms of visual arts (from paintings or sculptures), abstract forms resulting from a long process of "sedimentation".
The schematization where the artist is the source which emits by his work towards recipient-subjects has led to attempts to apply to art the theory of information transmission. From these attempts, I shall preserve some qualitative aspects, related to notions such as information, entropy, redundancy. I discard the quantitative means suggested by Max Bense or Siegfried Maser, whose validity is relative, even when they are circumscribed by the information theory of esthetical processes.
In plastic arts, the message is transmitted starting from deeper psychic structures andit reaches similar structures by emotional channels - thinking coexisting in a subordinate way. Therefore some adjustments and refinements of the definitions used by informatics seem necessary. The analogy results in some advantages, from the use of already created schemes, but adaptation should be made cautiously, by first transposing qualitative aspects, yet having in view the essences applicable to plastic arts and departing from the rigour of definitions. The contents of the notion of "information" should be shifted towards the artistical. It is common knowledge that for informatics information is what is obtained in a certain circumstance, by grasping the occurrence of an event for which an objective measure may be established, out of a series of possible events.
It is difficult to change the course of interpretations, or at least to refine the definitions, when theories on the application of modalities of informatics to art have already been presented by important researchers. Nevertheless, I shall try to voice some points of view, resulting from bioptical experiments. I suggest "(artistic) stimulus" should be used instead of "information". In the case of plastic arts, a "plastic stimulus" occurs in the psychic structure of the artist. It is materialized in his creation by an association of signs liable to trigger an emotional state in the recipient-subject. Hence those signs have a meaning mainly on the "channel" of affectivity.
Another notion transposed into informational esthetics is entropy. It first appeared in thermodynamics, defined as a measure of state, to quantify heat loss. Then, also in physics, by statistic analysis, Ludwig Bolzmann defined it in relation to a formula by which he concluded that this measure expresses the state of disorder of a system. By analogy, the name "entropy" was transferred to informatics by Claude Shannon, who found the same formula to express the degree of indetermination (uncertainty) in connection with a series of events with different probabilities of occurrence. Entropy was also defined as a measure of information necessary to reduce the state of indetermination, considering that the amount of information is necessary for a certain state of indetermination. Out of all definitions, I think that entropy in plastic arts is better expressed as the state of global uncertainty felt by an artist who cannot voice what he feels, the artistic work which does not materialize the creator's artistic intention or the recipient-subject to whom the emotional message was not transmitted or who has no psychic structure adapted to receive it. It seems that at the beginning the relationship artist / recipient-subject has a highest (virtual) entropy towards the artistic intention. The uncertainty towards the artistic intention is reduced by the occurrence of stimuli in the artist's psychic structure. Those stimuli, transposed into groups of plastic signs, induce emotional states upon reception.
The adaptation of the word entropy in this acceptation is more appropriate, in my opinion, to meditate on the relationship between artist and recipient-subject. The role of the avantgarde and of the increase of emotional reception in the future, related to modifications in the cultural structure of society, could be better estimated.
HIATUS IN PLASTIC ARTS Surfaces or spaces (proposed as modalities in visual arts) devoid of composition elements, interposed between the elements in the centre of the composition and the elements of the margins. When attention is focused on the centre, the influence of the margins may be reduced and their perception is unclear.
HYPERREALISTIC EFFECTS Effects which emphasize the realism of images by placing in a stereoscopic way reflections, glitters and shadows in the vicinity of forms and by rendering the structure of transparent bodies. Conventional painting uses perspective means to reproduce well-known forms (glass vases and tumblers, objects of polished metal, etc.). Since reflections and refractions actually result in spatial images, separated from the surfaces which produce them, bioptical techniques permit their placing at depth and artistically enhance those effects. (Hyperrealism is an art movement which aims at not interfering with the modification of reality. In painting, the artist "selects" a fragment of real life, which he "photographically" reproduces, with surprising details. To be sure, this goal cannot be attained using perspective alone. Account should be taken of the spatial relationships, which are to be effectively perceived as such).
HYPERSPACE IN PLASTIC ARTS Spatial representation by extrapolating the psychic space. As is known, the latter is formed through the agency of perceptual mechanisms, in contact with the surrounding space. By extrapolation I understand the artistic creation of a space meant for perception, in which, using bioptical means, new relationships are established among composition elements or component elements of an object are transformed, contradicting the logical "datum". E.g.: a cart wheel appears as a whole in normal vision. In bioptical vision (with one eye looking through the couple of mirrors and a naked eye), the felloe, the spokes and the hub are seen at relatively great depths, being transferred to another space, with different relations among components as against the normal representation.
METAVIRTUAL IMAGE It is the perceptual resultant of differentiated stimuli for the two eyes, introduced in compositions of plastic art.The psychophysical response to the observation of bioptical compositions when retinal disparities (differences between images formed on the retina of the left eye and those on the right eye retina) differ from those obtained when observing the surrounding world.
PSYCHIC CYCLE Psychic states resulting from contemplating bioptical compositions first with the naked eye, then with the couple of mirrors before one eye, and then again with the naked eye. These sequences may occur at intervals of a few minutes, up to tens of minutes.
REDUNDANCY IN PLASTIC ARTS Composition modalities which somewhat reduce the entropic state (state of emotional non-stimulation) between the artist and the recipient-subject.
In informatics, the ratio between the amount of information and the state of highest uncertainty of a source is called redundancy. The word "redundant" generally refers to something expressed by a useless abundance of ideas and images. In information technology, redundancy should be increased to ensure the reliability of message transmission, especially when entropy is enhanced by the perturbations in the communication channel. In plastic arts, when stimuli are emphasized and increased by the artist, entropy decreases, if it results in reception with inducement of emotional states. On the other hand a great load of signs, namely an undifferentiated increase of redundancy, results in "drowning" the message. Max Bense detached himself too little of informatics, in his sequence entitled "Little abstract esthetics". He provided a formula to measure the so-called microesthetics, a measure he thought to be equal to the ratio between redundancy and entropy.
Perturbations present in plastic arts should also be taken into account, though their nature differs from those of informatics. The artist's intention, triggered by his state of inspiration, is perturbed first of all by the limits of his skill and then by technical means. He imagines extrapolated forms in space, which become flat on the canvas, or spatial forms which are always too heavy and keep him on earth; worn out means which perturb him and enhance his dissatisfaction in the effort of developing his image. To be sure, regardless of his means, the artist could not have as much available material as he needs to furnish his conceptual universe. On the other hand, the artist is not concerned with perturbations occurring at the reception, especially due to his avantgarde position. He thinks that reception has remained within the limits of a routine educational atmosphere. This contradiction is sometimes alleviated in anticipation by art criticism. On the other hand, the artist himself should compose the group of signs, so as to decode inner stimuli, taking however reception into account. The artist can thus amplify the modalities of stimulated abstractization. For instance he may allow a longer gestation period to the proposed subject, even providing metaphoric descriptions of some of his artistic intentions. After a while this will lead him to forms with a stimulating content, creating ad-hoc educational atmospheres for himself and the recipient-subjects. Nevertheless, the great many quests, especially in our century, have enhanced the expressive abilities of the artist. At present, he may select elements and not modalities which would lead him to eclectic compositions.
Among those quests, we mention those entitled bioptical art. The findings of these quests efficiently increase the stock of means of expression. In the artistic work, plastic fields or areas may be organized with signs (signals) meant for each eye separately, resulting in the abrupt decrease of entropy and a transformation of the perceived space, of forms and colour mixtures, at the alternative contemplation with the naked eye and through the bioptical device. These tranformations, which occur in time (during observation), may be perceived by subjects with normal binocular vision, or by psychic structures formed by the environment, thus diminishing esoterism in artistic communication. In this psychic cycle there may occur changes in the effects of some ambiguities, such as those of spatial illusionism (Vasarely) or of Arnheim's superposed colour spots. It thus becomes possible to pass to the conflict of some uncertainties meant for deeper psychic structure. It is worth noticing that, though uncertainty was defined above as not producing emotional states, nevertheless, depending on sign composition, by its introduction into the psychic cycle, mediated by bioptical art, new decoding possibilities are created, or emotional states are triggered.
RESIDUAL IMPRESSIONS Impressions that persist after bioptical observation, at the end of the psychic cycle, when looking with the naked eye, hence "with a different eye". Impressions last for long.
RETINAL "COOPERATION" Psychophysical synthesis of some elements from bioptical compositions (painting or sculpture). Imperfections of execution present only in one field are inhibited. The perceived image tends to qualitatively higher levels.
SPACE AND TIME IN BIOPTICAL ART The definitions of these categories in the field of physics refer to relationships in the surrounding space, starting from that in front of the eyes (Werner Heissenberg). Bioptical art allows us to perceive the transformation of space within a lapse of time necessary for eye adjustment (convergence relative to eye accommodation) to look at the elements of specially designed compositions. Space and time are generated by static stimuli, placed on a surface which interferes with the "psychic cycle" by means of psychic mechanisms. After looking through the bioptical device and reverting to normal vision, impressions are not altogether reversible as the composition is seen "with a different eye" by the subjects.
SPATIAL DISHARMONY Perception of double images, formed on the observer's two retinas, with higher disparities than the fusionable ones. In general double images should be avoided. They are to be used only if they provide artistic effects.
SPATIAL HARMONY Group of elements in bioptical compositions, with disparities placed stepwise from the left to the right, so as to induce bioptical effects, accepted by binocular bioptical vision (one eye looking through the couple of mirrors), without the occurrence of double images. In normal vision, the observed object is surrounded by secondary images (projected on the retina around the yellow spot), which are inhibited. In the case of bioptical compositions, perception is more selective and double images are sometimes disturbing.
VISUAL GRADIENT Visual perception, whose acuity decreases from the centre of clearest vision to the margins of the visual field. It is related to wide-angle bioptical compositions.
Blue breezes. This title, seemingly poetical, results from experimenting colour mixtures for the phenomenon of colour fusion. Those mixtures result in a colour pulsation, similar to a breeze blowing gently over velvet-like fine grass. In paper  I mainly analyse the possibilities to define a visual GRADIENT, account being taken of the way the conscious awareness of images decreases from the centre of highest clearness (the yellow spot) to the blind margin of the eyes; the applications to visual arts are also taken into account, by the interposition of a visual HIATUS, differentiated as extent and colour between the centre and the margins of the composition. Some aspects were revealed by the bioptical experiments made by me, such as ad-hoc educational atmosphere, dynamics of space depth, global perception with attention pulsating between the centre and the margins of the visual field. These lead to states of contemplation also related to the conscious awareness of the space and time, as psychic magnitudes, induced by static and plane stimuli from the bioptical painting.[...]
GRADIENT: "Progressively decreasing variation, starting from the highest point of a substance concentration or of a physiological property in a cell or in an organism." (Petit Larousse) "Gradual rise or fall [...], rate of change of any quantity as related to distance." (Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary)