Sunday, January 8, 2012
One of the most valuable things I've learned from virtual worlds is that our conception of reality is based as much upon imaginary projection as objective perception. In a virtual world such as Second Life we can easily remember that there is software behind the beautiful sky we see. With a little more effort and attention we can even keep in mind that there is a human of unknown age, gender and appearance behind the avtar we're interacting with.
Being able to shift awareness in and out of immersion in virtual life is a great exercise for awakening to the analogous phenomenon in the atomic world. Our experience of physical life is no less a construction of our minds. The dome of Earth's sky is actually blue light scattered across the atmosphere. Although we can't read other people's minds, we usually act as if we know exactly what they're thinking.
For the past year or so, I've been playing around with using dolls and action figures to expose how our minds reflexively construct personality, identity and story. For instance, the toys in the image above weren't posed. The were just sitting on a shelf at an antique mall. But one glance was all it took for my mind to reflexively translate the sensory impressions into an evocative story. By noticing and capturing this mental process with toys, my hope is that I'll have an easier time remembering it with people. Someday.