n e a r   &   f a r

John Cayley

an illustration for the paper Lens: the practice and poetics of writing in immersive VR, published by the Leonardo Electronic Alamanac.

This transactive diagram is offered as an illustration of principles underlying the paper's tentative hypotheses concerning the ability of literal material to define space. After following the link from this page, the reader is asked to experiment with the diagram and make judgements about the visual illusion of relative distance presented by the left and right squares and their contents.

By selecting from the two pop-up menus, the reader can control, one at a time, the states of a number of simple binary characteristics that the two figures display. The reader can control: 1. the visibility of 'letters' (a word) within each plane, 2. the 'font size' of the word (large or small), 3. the 'sense' of the word (near or far), 4. the 'language' of the word (this is intended as a dimension of legibility, since I assume many readers will not be familiar with romanized Mandarin Chinese), and 5. the 'plane size' of the enclosing square (large or small).

The idea is to try and assess, cognitively, the relative effects of changes in these simple binary characteristics. I believe that the presence and absence and/or font size of the literal material has a disproportionate influence on the illusion of distance, even when running counter to, for example, the size of the plane (which you might expect to dominate any illusion), but also regardless of or counter to the sense of the literal material (although in my experience, when the sense is in accord with the illusion of distance, this does provide reinforcement).

After you follow the 'click' button below, the 'click' button on the diagram itself simply generates a random change of state in one or other figure.