Re: Reading images

Martin Ottenheimer (omar@KSU.KSU.EDU)
Thu, 4 Jan 1996 09:15:25 -0600

stacey a ayeh wrote:

>The hypothesis is this:
> Humans "only see" what they can understand. (i.e. someone
>who has never
> seen an image (photograph, film, video..) will not
>recognise themselves
> if they were suddenly confronted with one).
>The question is this:
> If a member of a tribe which has never come into contact with
>photographic images is shown a photograph of his/her chief will s/he be
>able to identify the image as a representation of the chief?
>Do we learn to read photographic images?
While I believe the answer to your last question is yes I would like
to point out that in the 1960s a polaroid land camera was used in the Comoro Islands
among a group of people, none of whom had seen anything like that
before, many had never had a picture taken of themselves, and some
had not seen any photographs or films. They had no difficulty with
the instant photographs, either in recognizing themselves or their
friends, and no difficulty in realizing that we could adjust the
contrast and focus. We were constantly asked to retake pictures
to make people look "better." We all learn to read.

My grandmother didn't have any trouble getting used to T.V., either,
by the way.

Martin Ottenheimer
Kansas State University
Voice: 913/532-6866
Fax: 913/532-6978