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?
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.
the ultimate dream
For what We inhabit, beneath this concrete veil, is
a form of Consensus Reality.
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
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 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 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.
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
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.'
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
has ever existed.
of every ingredient.
Every photon of
Was once a single
once a single point.
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.
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.
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
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.
uncertainty principle and touch me - do it for real this time, and let your
touch define me.
© Venice International Performance Art Week 2012-2018