Re: What's a picture?

Paul Gallagher (
24 Sep 1996 17:04:11 -0400

In <> (Robert Long) writes:

>Somewhere I know I have read about someone who took a camera with him
>in visiting a so-called primative culture (in Africa??) that had never
>before been exposed to photography. When he showed pictures of their
>friends and themselves to the people who lived there, he discovered
>that they had no idea how to look at pictures and couldn't recognize
>even familiar people and objects in the prints. They had to be taught
>how to see flat pictures as a respresentation of three-dimensional

I don't know, but you might try looking in Colin Turnbull's The Forest
People. I remember that it contains a description of the perception of
space by the Mbuti, who live in the rain forests of Zaire. They
perceived distant large objects that appear small as actually being small.
Since they lived in the forest where far-off objects are hidden from view
by trees, distant objects weren't part of their experience. I'd guess
that they would have trouble interpreting photos as well, since the illusion
of space in photos depends on knowing that objects that appear smaller
may instead really be more distant from the camera.