Tuesday, 27 November 2012

coming home at all hours and in all colours

Wikipedia’s English portal features among its newest content a classic picture book (with full text and illustrated plates) on optical and afterimage phenomena, by JH Brown called Spectropia, or, surprising spectral illusions showing ghosts everywhere and of any colour. It is a very carefully crafted study of the eye and optics and the tricks that one’s senses can play. The author was concerned with the parlour cult of sรฉances that was sweeping Victorian England, and he hoped that if young children were exposed to the scientific explanation of phantasmagorical imagery, they might later be less likely to fall for charlatans or make impulsive decisions driven by fear or superstition. The work is beautifully presented and executed and the motive behind it, sweeping away some of the cobwebs of the brain, is pretty neat too. I wonder if there ever was a trend in publishing to dispel or disabuse what might be other grand illusions of our programming and the artists who prey on them.