DISSECTING ANAM CARA – IN BETWEEN THE SENSES, TOGETHERNESS AND THE QUANTUM


This changes nothing for it changes everything. So touch Me: for real.

By daz disley

 

 

Image from the performance Panta Rhei V: Matter by VestAndPage, Taipei Artist Village, 2012. Photograph by Liu Yao.

 

 

 

In the classical model of the five senses...

We experience Touch

We experience Sight

We experience Hearing

We experience Smell

We experience Taste

 

And We sense a whole lot more besides, but for the moment, let’s focus on just these five.

So what are these experiences? What is it that constitutes these fundamentals of our interaction with the world around us? What is it that shapes sensation, and forms our identity at the surface of our existence? Might it simply be our Togetherness?

Our concrete understandings. Those easiest of delusions, a most convenient synthesis. The collective understandings by which We navigate. From what are these understandings derived? From where do We draw these extrapolations, and from what truth do We infer these interpolations?

When We scratch away at that itch of a surface. When We dig toward inner knowledge We must confront the finely-balanced illusory nature of our being... and ultimately realise that We are nothing. The paradoxical completeness of the everything of our selves is an illusion.

an hallucination

a ghost

a spectre

the ultimate dream

For what We inhabit, beneath this concrete veil, is a form of Consensus Reality.

 

So what?

Let us dig. Beneath the macro, into a world of subdivision. Where body gives-way to limb, and organ gives-way to cell. This vessel constituting our archive, our identity, our memories and our outlooks: each depth more subtle than the last. And when. When We reach below, to almost unimaginable depths: beyond the cellular where We’re half-human, half-microbial; beyond the molecular where We’re essentially soup with issues... We arrive at the most subtle levels of our constitution, and the very idea of touch: dissolves.

But You touch Me. And I touch You. Our bodies in temporary union. A shared recognition, sensation of warmth; feeling of connection ... an understanding ... a coalescence.

There is nothing physical to this meeting, for in an absolute sense, there is no contact and there can be no contact. But sensation remains, for We are quantum beings, and We experience.

Seven billion billion billion atoms, each and every one nothing more than a few trillionth parts matter, with the rest: empty. Both individually, and Together: We are a vast blank canvas, dotted with mere traces of energy. And when We touch, this empty space of Me meets the empty space of You. A disturbance of vibration giving-rise to virtual photonic exchange, as momentum becomes influence: displacing and redirecting the fundamental probabilistic waveforms constituent of our physicalities.

Every Electron. Every Atom. Every Molecule of Every Cell. The constant flux of a relativistic dance: a charge transfer, fundamentally non-physical in its nature.

This. This is what We call Touch. Despite our fundamental entanglement, We do not, and We can not: come directly into contact.

Every touch. Every brushing-by and passing-point of exchange, every sensation of heat, of cold, of communication, and of union. All of this experience - the experience of our largest physical organ - is a quantum interaction.

All of it.

 

So what?

Light. The oscillation of potential. A frequency, a polarity, and a vector. An electromagnetic union, encapsulated, identified as a photon. It has no flavour. It has no smell. It has no sound, so is there any reason to believe it has colour?

When We See. When We open our eyes to let-in a flood of quasi-particles, a storm of energy: a deluge of Information. When the empty space of our electro-quantum physicality is exposed to a vibration, We absorb: We modulate and translate. A displacement from photon to electron. From quantum, to electro-chemical: From neuro-signal to pattern, and from pattern to interpretation.

We are quantum beings, and the subtlety of our thresholds is astonishing.

It takes less than fifty photons to provoke us into visual experience. A waveform potential five hundred-thousandths of a centimetre across. Less than one one-hundredth the width of the finest human hair. Just fifty interactions at this scale is enough to constitute 'visible.'

In the split-second it takes us to ingest a coherent light field and form a visual image in our neural centres, many millions of transfers take place, each the result of a temporary union between photon and electron. Vast swathes of Information, streaming through the open channels of our nervous system, but despite this apparent richness, there is no such thing as colour.

Only frequency. And what is more: fewer than four thousandths of the available frequencies of light are sensed by our ocular faculties. What We experience as colour is entirely a construct: nothing more than a convenience, refined over hundreds of thousands of years of our collective evolution within the constraints of our local environment.

And We have further, physical limitations which We overcome them, in perhaps surprising ways. For all the apparent sophistication of our visual senses We all have blind-spots. Physical regions in our eyes where there are no receptive nerve-endings. In a very real sense, there is a section of each eye where literally nothing is sensed, but for the most part, none of us notice. Logically, We should all experience a dark patch in each eye where We simply don't collect any Information. But We don't. Instead, We synthesise this Information. In the absence of continuity We hallucinate. We do it continually, and to such apparently subtle degree that We don't even notice. Our visual understanding of the world is only partly based on the information in front of us, and the rest, is entirely generated in our interior. Seamlessly.

But I see You. And You see Me.

The empty space of us both, and the gap between us absorbs and re-emits. A mutual dance of reflectance and transformation, interpretation and consensus. This conundrum of qualia We share, as our soul-vehicles seek to survive in vast fields of Information, illusion, construction. Our shared biologies masking the myriad quantum interactions with the fundamental energies of the environments We navigate.

 

So what?

Vibration. Oscillation. Phase. Location. A transfer through a medium. A physical rotation as air is displaced, temporarily compressing and expanding in on-going cycles.

When We hear. We ingest movement in a series of translations from physical, to electrical, and from electrical to chemical.

Streams of energy, impulses, patterns. A repetition of movement. Waves up to twenty metres in length, down to less than two centimetres, moving past, around, and through us at more than three hundred metres per second. And just one thousand-billionth of a watt distributed over a square metre is enough energy to constitute audible, yet of those ten thousand square centimetres, less than two are physically occupied by the surface of our eardrums, so in effect We can sense one fifth of one millionth of one billionth of a one single watt of energy, and We do so over a range of frequencies directly related to the physical make-up of both our bodily-ecosystems, and the environments We inhabit.

We sense location, and movement, as a direct result of the morphology of our bodies. Each body being different. Each Experience being different. Whilst for some musicians, there is a concept of "perfect-pitch," in an objective sense no such measurement is viable as We are all highly-tuned floating-point systems with respect to our experience of sound. When the energy associated with these environmental modulations fluctuate, We are far from passive and our bodies adapt in the moment allowing us spectacular capacity to interpret, to understand, and to match the patterns around us with our beliefs and expectations.

Our experience of sound isn't just limited to external stimuli, or provoking the environment to resonate with us. We have an inner voice. We have an inner rhythm. You might say We have an inner song. Beyond the obvious inner soundscape of heartbeat, breathe, digestion and movement, We make sound internally as an embedded part of how We understand and interpret the world. Our ears: make sound. Our nervous system literally talks-back to us, and vibrates in resonance with our thoughts. The patterns We interpret from external stimuli are modelled against internally synthesised representations generated from expectation, so our experience of sound, is as much an internal understanding of subjective context as it is a definitive representation of outside influence.

But I hear You. And You hear Me.

Our empty spaces are full. The spectrum flowing from You meets the spectrum flowing from Me, as We reach towards a point of mutual recognition. Shared patterns built from evolution, synthesised from understanding. Modulated by experience. Moderated by the ever-flowing passage of nowness.

 

So what?

Molecules. Shapes. Emotions and Memory.

When We smell, our olfactory neurons chemically bind with the molecules in the air around us, releasing a stream of electro-chemical signals further interpreted by the brain in reference to evolution, survival, personal histories and preferences. Furthermore, the shapes of the molecules We come into contact with have an influence on the way We perceive them, and We have the faculty to distinguish otherwise chemically identical substances. At a molecular level, the compounds forming oils of Lemon and oils of Lime are composed of identical building blocks. The only distinguishing feature between the two is their chirality. One twists in one direction, whilst the other forms in the opposite direction. Physically, these compounds exist in the sub-ten-nanometre range, yet We can tell them apart by simply smelling them, and this happens not through chemical interaction, but because of the distinct shape of each molecule.

We are quantum beings, and We are exquisitely tuned to differentiate states of matter at the sub-molecular level.

The numbers are astonishing, yet as mammals go We don't even have particularly sophisticated olfactory systems. However, We can sense the presence of substances at an incredibly subtle level, with some chemicals olfactible at dilutions in the order of one part in one-thousand-billion parts: the equivalent of one centilitre distributed evenly into four olympic swimming pool-volumes.

But not all smell manifests as conscious awareness.

I smell You, and You smell Me.

Our age, Our health, Our fertility, and even Our relative familiarity are all things We communicate in silence, beneath the conscious exterior of our more active perception. The empty space between the empty spaces of our physicalities is full of the chemical signals We use to subtly communicate with each other, and when We communicate, We do so in deep reference to past experience and our emotional histories.

We. Are Astonishing.

 

So what?

Traditionally, We might consider taste to be nothing more than a series of electro-chemical interactions between foods and certain areas of our mouths. We must remember however, that our quantum nature makes this model much deeper, much more sophisticated.

Heat, Texture, Olfaction, and even Sound are all combined as part of the sensations We experience when We invite our foods past the thresholds of our bodies to constitute the sustenance We survive on. Beyond traditions, karma, and experience: taste is one of the ultimate domains of synesthetic sensation. Elemental judgements around freshness, ripeness, and nutritional compatibility happen at the very surface of our interaction with Taste, and before We even introduce these substances into our bodily ecosystems We also make a whole variety of visual judgements and indications around the foods We take nourishment from.

From an evolutionary perspective, We also carry with us a range of survival-oriented measures around our understandings of taste. Bitterness can indicate toxicity, sweetness correlates with energy, and rancidity indicates potential disease: all things We are keenly adept at sensing. And it goes further: beyond the standard understanding of Bitter, Sweet, Salty and Sour, We can sense the amino-acid content of foods through our perception of Umami, which gives us a direct indication of the usefulness of a food in terms of the body's ability to self-repair: essentially, We can Taste the building-blocks the body needs in order to maintain itself.

And I Taste You, and You Taste Me.

Beyond the synthesis of smell and taste, the information context in which We present ourselves to each other: our clothing, our styling, our body language and our approach: are just a small measure of the indicators We use to communicate. Our personality, Our expression, and ultimately Our compatibility, are all things which get co-opted into a broader understanding of this sensation of taste.

We are quantum, and We extend these self-modelled sets of nano-rooted preferences out into the macro-domain.

 

So what?

All of our senses are subject to a noise-floor: that point at which useful Information can be distinguished from background noise, whether environmental or internal. But We form patterns from Information, and this is something We've been doing as a matter of survival for many thousands of years. And because of our desperate need to understand the world, to contextualise Information in a framework of patterns, to give everything its place in reality, We have an astounding capacity to infer when given only partial Information. These pattern-matching faculties are not only exquisite, but also subject to error, and false-estimation, and at the margins of perception where Information is only barely distinguishable from noise, We form patterns nonetheless: We can't help but form patterns because our evolutionary survival is predicated on being able to discern convenient or useful patterns.

This can be seen in our apparently disproportionate visual sensitivity to the colour green: in a survival-oriented context, green indicates rain as plant-growth follows water... where there is plant-growth follows shelter, follows food, follows survival. We still have this biological bias toward the colour green, even when for the Western world there is a much less direct correlation between green and survival. To some extent We have decoupled this sense-survival identity, but We are still left with the sense-survival acuities We developed along the way.

This can also be heard in our non-linear perception of frequency: We are more acutely sensitive to frequencies centred around a baby crying. It is imperative from a survival perspective that We can discern that which needs protecting for the successful future of community: Togetherness.

These are just two examples of where evolutionary pattern matching is still embedded within our sensory understanding of the world, and there are many many more examples.

This evolutionary need to match patterns, when presented with sparse-Information in the context of noise, however, leads us on a desperate search (Apophenia): not because of any fault, or personal shortcoming, simply because of the Weight of evolution and the need to survive. Some of the theories surrounding current understandings of what We interpret to be mental-health-problems (psychosis, schizophrenia, spectrum-disorders) can be viewed in the context of pattern-matching and noise: where the background noise of the random firing of neurons is interpreted in the patterns of voice and language, giving rise to auditory hallucinations: the phenomenon of hearing voices. The inability to locate the inner voice inside of us and instead, sensing its source outside in the world: a potential explanation of the manifestation of schizophrenia. I'm certainly not qualified to talk in any specialised form around diagnosis - I mention it here just to demonstrate that very very old survival mechanisms from a time where evolution demanded such things, still form part of our biological condition: our evolutionary context: a very real form of species-karma.

 

So what?

In a sense-oriented interpretation of reality, it must be taken into account that the flow of Information from the outside is always met with a flow of expectation from within. Some of this expectation is conscious, some of it less so, and no matter how much We consciously decide to rid ourselves of expectations, the very fact of memory gives rise to the situation where our interpretation of reality (from the inside) is as important as any "hard facts" encountered (from the outside). To put it crudely: all experience is synthetic; all experience is at least part-hallucination, or dream.

We are both complex, and complicated: Not merely a large number of variables, but multi-sensory variables, which are therefore multidimensional at their root. We are quantum beings, and We experience each other, and a huge part of that experience originates on the inside. Where We meet, this surface, is where the external You, and my internal You somehow combine, get synthesised into the current You-in-the-now, which in experiential terms, is all there is. We remember the past, but We don’t remember the future: We might try and predict the future, but We don’t predict the past... the Me-You-Here-Now synthesis of the understanding between us, is all We really have. Our mutual gift. This present.

 

So what?

In the context of our apparently evolved humanity, and through the crafted lenses of science and technology, physicists have come to an understanding of the Universe which itself, is also somewhat astonishing. 

Let’s take a frequency - call it Sound. Let’s make it constant, and place it at an equidistant point between us. If We move this frequency towards Me, My experience of the wavefront it radiates compresses, whilst in Your experience the waveform is stretched. For Me the pitch rises, and for You it falls. If We now move this frequency back towards You, We’ve effectively switched places and so now for Me the apparent pitch will drop, and for You it will rise, and when the movement stops once more our experience will be similar. When the relationship between observer and observed is in flux, the vector between the two gives rise to a modulated observation.

This is the Doppler-effect: when the observer moves with-respect to the observed. It can be heard in the sound of vehicles approaching us, and going away again, but the phenomenon isn’t limited to just sound. It also happens with light, just on significantly smaller scales, and over quite ridiculously large distances. With light, as an object moves toward the observer, its increase in frequency manifests as a drift towards the blue end of the spectrum, and as it moves away, its decrease in frequency results in a shift toward red: Red-shift.

And it’s Universal— not just in scale, but also in occurrence.

The detection of Universe-wide red-shift in the cosmic microwave background radiation indicates that every part of the Universe is moving away from every other part of the Universe. When this is reversed to track the Universe back in time to a point before Time itself emerged, approximately 13.8 billion years ago: all matter, all energy, all light, all the ingredients of all atoms: everything We see and interact with today, was condensed into a single point in space.

Everything.

Everything that has ever existed.

Everything that exists today.

Every subatomic unit.

Every ingredient of every ingredient.

Every photon of light.

 

Every single Everything. 

 

Was once a single point.

Everything was once a single point.

A Singularity.

Condensed.

 

Together.

 

As unimaginable as this may seem, what this points to is Universal entanglement. Every building block of every atom of You, was once in quantum superposition with every building block of every atom of Me. And Every Atom of Everything Else. 

So in a very real sense, with no need for spiritual discourse, or philosophical treatise:

 

I am You, and You are Me, and We are Here: Together.

 

A So what? of cosmic proportions.

As We synthesise our understandings, We do so to a far greater degree than many of us are probably willing to acknowledge, and certainly to a deeper extent than many of us generally notice. It is understood that our brains are segmented, into silos of understanding, with a part just for this, and another just for that, but We leak, and our electrochemical messengers sometimes shout too loud, so the Information meant for here, sometimes also goes over there.

Can You See what I’m Saying? Do You have a Taste of how this Feels, or do You perhaps Think this idea Stinks? This ... is Synaesthesia ... and We all do it to some degree or other. Whether We’re aware of it or not: We leak, and the synthesis of our understanding is manifold.

This synthetic conglomeration, generated in response to our environment. This understanding of Other. This deep-seated evolutionary need to digest patterns in an ever-changing sea of noises internal and external: all We have, all We can rely on, all We can call Reality in any real-sense: is Consensus.

Consensus Reality: not just a derivation of consent, or an agreement between our inner and outer worlds...

con-sense-us: Together We sense

We sense because We are Together: We are Together because We sense

And because our senses are composed of electronic and photonic interactions: as We share, as We exchange, We move toward balance, toward equilibrium.

We don’t just live ‘in’ time: We create Time.

This Togetherness of our interactions: creates Time.

My cold hands. The warmth of Your touch. Our shared but different sensations equilibrate, and as energy is exchanged between Our bodies, Our equilibrium becomes progressively stronger. And that Information, Your Information: that black-body heat which warms Me. Our Information. Every photon. Every transfer. Every step toward thermal equilibrium by means of correlation - Our blossoming entanglement diffuses this Information, and betWeen Us, around Us, through Us, is an increase in Entropy.

Together We are Fletchers, collaborant in the crafting of the arrow of Time through shared experience.

We have made this Reality, You and Me, and as We continue to shape it: Our exchange: this virtual-photonic interface: creates the very stuff of Time itself.

 

So... 

Fuck the uncertainty principle and touch me - do it for real this time, and let your touch define me.

 

 


© Venice International Performance Art Week 2012-2018

 
 
 
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