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Hilary Miller


Visual perception, beyond what may be measured by neuroscience or psychology, is one of the most uniquely subjective senses of a living creature. As we understand it, human perception exists at the intersection of top–down (previously–held) knowledge and bottom–up (newly–observed) percepts. The intersection of these gives our experience its human perspective. While vision, perception and cognition are defining features of our human experience, almost all animals share this formula for cognitive perception. The properties of the eye and nervous system vary enormously among animals, as does the unique purpose of gaining a visual understanding of the surrounding environment. However, the experiential quality is more ineffable. There is no existing science that can tell us exactly how or what an animal sees. Reaching a solid stance requires an amalgamation of scientific research, philosophical theory, and artistic extrapolation.

It is through the combined study of these fields that I’ve been able to realize what is and is not attainable in understanding the visual experience of another animal. Scientists can tell us how the eye works and what a particular animal has the technical ability to see. However, the cognitive model we imagine can never be more than a human attempt to understand an animal. The result is a distorted vision of combined experiences. Taking an in-depth look into the social structure and visual capacity of the honeybee, I sought to define the line of what they see and what we, as a separate species, reflect upon them. The result is a three–dimensional visual collage, which maintains the materials and forms that appear methodically in the honeybees constructed world. Wood, wax, honey, and light combine to form a distorted rendering of city maps that asks the viewer to orient himself within the piece but denies the legibility to do so. Shapes, forms, and color tone reflect the honeybee’s visual experience while impeding the human ability to translate and comprehend.

SECTOR C: Art Practice and Technology

ADVISERS: Orkan Telhan (FNAR), Geoffrey Aguirre (MED)