W a l t e r z A l t e r
p o r t f o l i o

a r t i c l e s


Recalibrating the Gauges

Vox Magazine 1990


Imaging technology expands human capabilities.

Imaging technology is the present organizing principle of social forms for two reasons: a- information density (a picture is worth a thousand words): b- image plasticity (imaginary constructs can be brought into the 3-D world and tested for reality). Individual image prototyping, ie., fantasizing, becomes less encapsulated within personality loops and belter engaged in problem-solving.

With the addition of touch screen technology, the imaging screen can take on the functions of a keyboard or any other hands-on control device. Multi-functionality is a powerful form of throughput amplification. The imaging screen tool reflects our capacity lo both view and visualize. It will probably be the first component of an artificial intelligence that exceeds biological performance.

Screens will drive other screens. Within a large bank of info-feed back screens, any shift in paradigms introduced by the operator will cause a kaleidoscopic cascade of phase and intensity determinants to spread across the screens like a living mosaic. Observation of the rate of change will awaken our sense of acceleration. Interacting with images will become direct and immediate, the closest thing to imagination. Imagination will thus connect with reality in effective problem solving mentation. By revealing the interconnectivity of all events within a phase and of all phases within our universe, technology becomes the most humanitarian of all human endeavors.

Technology supplies the amplifying intelligence lo every user. Human knowledge may now self-amplify in a geometrically accelerating mode rather than the pre-imaging linear one. Technology requires an educated workforce. The perception of technology as impersonal and uncaring is the result of a carry-over of feudalist economics into modern day economics. Under feudalism, divisions of labor were decided upon by tradition, birthright, wealth, privilege, etc. and resulted in caste system boundaries that tended to freeze social evolution. Feudalist, centralist control of technology is futile. The genie is out of the bottle.

Marshal McLuhan first hypothesized an important characteristic of technological advance: previous technology dictates the form of its subsequent evolution. His example was of the first automobiles placing the engine in front where the horses went. They called it the horseless carriage. This is a shock-reducing social mechanism which validates the past in form while incorporating new substance. So it is with television. We have a medium imprisoned within the form of its predecessor, cinema. The potential of television is in both its physical form and its content. It has been captive to cinema's physical form (a single screen) and content (the presentation of dramatic, emotional suspense). Television is ideally suited to multi-screen arrays, instantaneous update and real time look-in on important events.

Television has achieved a modicum of autonomy due to its portability, the ability for the viewer to switch through channels, view from within the living environment and utilize the autonomous potentials of VCRs and camcorders.

The compact handicam allows us to look in on areas of human discovery as it occurs without the mitigation of commentary or editing. Exploration, laboratory work, conferences, classroom lectures, etc. could be tuned in. Real lime problem solving and emergency situations already benefit to a degree from this technology, particularly in the medical field where delicate procedures are accessible to world wide expertise while in progress. The recent events in China were covered in large measure by students with smuggled handicams. The drama is reality itself.

With fiber optics and degeneration-proof image and sound recording, every human be comes a news wire service. Fiber optics already carry in-house video teleconferencing capability within many corporate office complexes. When fiber optic lines replace telephone lines, the wires will be humming with so much communication flux that new visual shorthand languages will spring up.

Video teleconferencing makes possible the decentralization of the workstation and could eventually allow half of the workforce to operate from their homes. Job teamwork could be a new element in family bonding. Morale and productivity would rise in a self-regulated work environment. Company supplied consumer computer and video interlink equipment would tend to make such employee live/work spaces centers of neighborhood interest, enhancing company prestige.

Tele-synthetic reality, virtual space imaging and allied tactile-referent systems signify the final curtain call of the world of entertainment as we know it. Initially Cinerama type roller coaster rides will be made commercially available from centralized distribution points. Autonomous programming skills, augmented by breakaway R&D, will eventually allow for the spectator to insert him or herself into any 360 degree mapped space and allow wandering through the space at will. 3-D memory storage will allow a great deal of image resolution.

Various studies on the nature and effect of television have been made and their results published. None, however, have taken into account a hitherto unknown potential of the video medium, that of multi-screen viewing. Multi-screen image displays are key to solving the problem of information overload. There is not too much information, there is too little cognitive ability to handle it. The capabilities of the brain's visual cortex (mass-free mental imaging, thought pictures) coupled to the synthetic potential of our matter-composed universe (a molecular Leggo kit) provides us with a large number of problem solving avenues. Problem solving is very simple given enough information. The facts usually sort themselves out into necessity fields and mental effort is freed up lo pursue creativity. This is art. In order to become artists we have to learn how to operate with freedom of choice within a dense global information matrix.

We mainly use only a small portion of the visual field at any one time, a pencil thin cone of maximum attention. We see as we read — in a scanning manner. This leaves the peripheral visual field almost unused. Expansion of peripheral apperception allows for simultaneous comparative gauging of visual information, which, in turn, amplifies memory and projection in the mind. We can make parallel processing accessible to consciousness. One can get a taste of this by setting two TV sets side by side, tuning in two different stations and concentrating on getting the gist of both programs at the same time. Within ten minutes you should be catching on.

Multi-screen viewport arrays imply more than one point of view which is the basis for dimensionality. We perceive time from the standpoint of a succession of temporal points of view. We perceive space from a binocular point of view, the fusion of which gives us 3-D. Multiple points of view is the primary means by which awareness amplifies itself. Putting ourselves in the other person's shoes, for example, is a key lo successful communication and understanding. Having the flexibility lo adopt many points of view during the analysis of a situation is the creative way to avoid traps in cognition. With multi-screen arrays and teleconferencing, we have potentially millions of points of view, conceptually as well as physically. We can map out facets of a situation like a cubist painting, coming up with as complete a picture as possible.

Completing pictures is the name of the game.