DEPTH and DISTANCE PERCEPTION -Issues of Design 33

Post 720 by Gautam Shah


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Depth is ‘the most existential dimension’. It is the dimension of dimensions, most inevitable experience of the world and being. Merleau-Ponty (1968) considers depth to be the primary spatiality that grounds experiences of the world. Depth designates the primary dimension that defines the distance between one’s self and other things. In this sense the depth allows the ‘coexistence’.

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Depth is often considered as the third measure. Width and Length, both are parallel to the gravity, but depth is usually vertical. Depth is measured from a high to a lower point or from front to back side. The bottom point of depth is the gravity. Depth and Height are synonymous, except that Depth is downward and Height is upward. Other terms for depth include altitude, elevation, datum, thickness, etc. Depth relates to a point, that is less accessible or fathomable, like depth of water, drawer, field or someone’s feeling. Depth differentiates the front from the the background and so reflects the intensity.

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Depth gives an ‘additional dimension to a two-dimensional (Width and Length) representation, and revels other qualities of the field’. The perception of depth, indicates information like the position of the perceiver, target and the mediating context. Depth is the distance between one’s self and other things, even, if the later are unreal. Distance gives a wider perspective, but Depth offers better or detailed insight.

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Depth of measurable Distance, implies a Direction, which in turn reflect concentration, assimilation, densification and comprehension. Depth nominally relates orientation towards the Gravity. But, we say looking inside the space though it is up and away from our gravity. Similarly, we say viewing deep inside the microscope or telescope. The measure of deepness is down or inwards, like a deep place, deep waters, deep winter, etc. Emotionally depth means abstruseness, extent of sagacity and penetration. Depth of expression have intensity, density, complexity, strength and seriousness.

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Visual depth defines the position of objects by connecting and separating them in space. Audio depth has many facets, the sound could be of high or low pitch, direct or reverberated. Depth of smell and Taste, both reflect the intensity of experience. Tactile Depth is the reach of experience to subcutaneous level. Depth is a measure, perceived through the sensorial faculties.

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The presence of dual (two eyes-ears) or multi-nodal (touch) perceptions define the direction, to make the depth-measure more accurate. The movement of eyes and the ability to shift the focus create a sense of visual and aural perspective. Here the far-off objects become duller and the intervening distances proportionately change.

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Depth perception leads to judgement of distance. Depth constitutes a perceptual horizon that places the body with other things, as well as the world, such ‘interconnection is indispensable to understanding of the depth’.

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Depth and Distance are different. Distance is sensed between two objects, as a multi sensorial experience and also as a contextual phenomena. Depth offers the distance and sense of volume. Distance is between two objects, and for that both the objects need to be experienced simultaneously, or alternatively bridged through several mediating things like time delay (motion picture frames) and spatial proximity, through convergence, divergence and interventions. Depth judgements can be personal, but the Distance, once measured is real. Distance manifests as remoteness or work-reach.

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All depth perceptions are distinguished by the primary experience of third dimension, followed by delayed or spaced out realizations of the ‘after-effects like traces, shadows, context, front-back, etc. The visual shadows occur mainly due to illumination and recognition of tint-hue of the colour. The depth of visual shadows formed with illumination, have two qualities, the orientation (angle) and the intensity (degree of brightness). Through the phenomenon of visual perception, the other concealed depth aspects of objects emerge. Effects of surface illumination are visually perceived as change in the brightness, intensity of colour and texture. The depth dimension continuously changes, yet over a period with persistent exposure and past experiences, together, form a reliable measure.

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The depth, is the realization of spatiality of objects and the realm between objects. The depth and space are synonymous. A space exists for the person, where the variable measures of depth form a dynamic and subjective experience. So depth is not a Euclidean definition or element geometrical space, but a personal rapport with the world.

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This is the 33rd article (in continuation of old series -new beginning) on ISSUES of DESIGN.


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