Photo recognition

Carlos Reynoso (reynoso@PCCP.COM.AR)
Wed, 26 Jul 1995 11:00:07 ARG

Finally a good anthropological issue! I have an example from another field.
In the early days of ethnomusicology, a fieldworker (I can get the reference
if necessary) happen to play some Eskimo sings in his violin. The Eskimo
around there did not recognize the songs as their own, even when played
immediately. No relationship whatsoever!, they said.

I guess the instrumental version is not a reproduction, but something like a
transformation, as photography is. Even a "realist" photo is, mathematically
speaking, a complex transformation of scale, texture, context and geometric
dimension. This involves complicated cultural conventions, and only
secondarily a "natural perception" phenomenon. Recognition of photos (and
transpositions, and film) is somehow a learned skill. I am
not a die hard relativist, by the way. There must be a lot of examples and
cases in other fields: Piagetian psychology, research on aphasia, etc.

Carlos Reynoso
Universidad de Buenos Aires