A Study on the Movement of Thought

and the Illusion of time

-This is an edited and condensed version for the catalog, and has been adapted for readability purposes

My work in neuroscience focuses on developmental cognition and cognitive restructuring. This group of artwork started as a paper about the movement of thought. Explaining the exact moment when thinking switches from one slice of time to another. After several attempts with different approaches in explanation, I realized that in order for someone to understand what I am talking about, they are going to have to experience it themselves, otherwise it is just theory. A year of thinking and writing lead me to developing an image, or a trigger, that when viewed, a series of repeatable cognitive processes occur.

I was looking for something that would cognitively affect everyone the same way. Something that could be repeated with no end and with no effort put forth. It needed to be able to trigger memories and still have the ability to grow as its own unique thought network. Lastly, the approach needed to be ubiquitous, and timeless; understandable for all ages and cultures around the world. This was the broad view of the criteria needed for me to break things down and find an approach that would complete a very specific job. Once I understood this information, I then moved on to a more detailed criteria.

I concluded that a two dimensional objective representation was necessary for a universal base understanding. That means it will be visually understood the same way for every culture in the world. To remove any bias, the cognitive movement needed to be involuntary and repeatable, but significant enough that it can be easily distinguished as being different than before. I wanted the movement to be true and authentic for everyone, something different than an illusion, I needed something stronger and more definite. This lead me to something called a Gestalt Switch.

A common Gestalt Switch (GS) is a change in perspective from a perceived figure to a different figure within the perceived ground. This change in perspective takes place without any transformation or alteration of the image. There are a few types of GS and they all do roughly the same thing, as in you see one image and then you suddenly perceive it as a completely different image. Although the shifting between images is the purpose of a Gestalt Switch, the cognitive process that understands the perspective is different between the types. It is not the act that determines its ability, it is how the image is cognitively understood that makes a difference. To achieve the processes needed in order to express the movement of thought, I needed for my GS to be built using visual entropy.

I interpret visual entropy as:

Our brains are wired to exist in a high visual entropy state. You are surrounded by hundreds or thousands of separate objects but they all do not have your undivided attention. You are able to choose a focus and understand only minimal information of the surrounding shapes and objects.

Everything in your field of vision contributes to this high visual entropy state. The ability to choose a focus and unconsciously subdue the rest, regardless of modality, is the everyday innate entropic ability that everyone possesses.

With high visual entropy, there is low visual entropy. They are one and the same, as all types of entropy are. Everyone has the ability to achieve a low entropy state and most people experience it on a daily basis. Certain visual conditions focus the brain and allow your vision to rest before it switches back to a high visual entropy awareness. This point of rest is a low entropy state, it is a type of visual meditation. It is achieved by focusing on a wider span of space or a less structurally cluttered area where your brain does not have to process as much information. Another type of low visual entropy is referred to as “being in the zone”. This is experienced by a lot of athletes during hyper focused times of a game. Their focus is so concentrated that everything else around them seems to disappear or be moving in slow motion.

Our high entropy existence is also a part of why we think time moves forward. As we move our bodies, our brains take in the information coming in through our eyes and we cognitively understand the change in the shapes that are surrounding us as different. We understand this concept as moving from one location to another. We understand the concept of time by the changing visual field around us. When there is no change or movement in our surroundings, we lose the concept of time. Time, as we understand it, is not fundamental, it is an illusion.

The Gestalt Switch Unicorn (GSU) has eighteen separate parts to it with nine different colors. That is a lot of shapes and other information to comprehend within a confined space. This Unicorn is conceptually designed using representations of high visual entropy; the same state that our brains are always in. The GSU is just a controlled closed structured environment, utilizing the same concept that our perceptual cognition is already wired to understand.

Moving from a high entropy state to a low entropy state is a form of meditation. It is a slowing down of your mind and allowing a less confused structuring to take place. This allows the simplicity of the other shape to stand out. By utilizing the features of a generic face in conjunction with the more open and less visually cluttered area, a strong influence takes place and the mind recognizes the facial pattern, solidifying the separation and uniqueness of a new image. Recognition of this open and less visually confused space is a low visual entropy state. This is also why your perception will always revert back to the understanding of the Unicorn, as it is a high entropy pattern. This process is unique to this Gestalt Shift. The image can be anything but the balance of the size relations have to be precise.

Popularity of the unicorn spans through generations and dates all the way back to 2700 BC. It would be difficult to find a person that does not know what a unicorn is, regardless of style or geographic location. The wide spread knowledge of this mythical creature is reinforced through conformation bias and is generally rooted in childhood memories.

Perception is cognition. Amodal thinking means having the cognitive ability to extrapolate information. All knowledge of unicorn is amodal because it is a mythical creature and non- experiential. Memories of unicorns that you have are not about unicorns themselves but the situations and amodal conditions that arise.

When you are thinking, you are using information that you already have stored in your brain. To experience the movement of thought, it needs to be visually perceived. This action is a multimodal process requiring visual perception as a base for continued information. This base, which is the unicorn image, is the mode. By using this base, all information perceived will be authentic to each individual viewer.

By using the image of a unicorn, the long term memory of anything unicorn, and all of its associated areas, are either activated or have access to be activated. Because the unicorn is a mythical creature, and non-experiential, it has a multitude of amodal network associations that are utilized for the understanding of it representing a unicorn. Whether the recognition of unicorn as a complete understanding, or the combination of color, line, or form, there will be access to the triggering of these areas in the brain where a unicorn memory is rooted. Those associations will be different for everyone, but they will all be true because they are personal unique memories; the unicorn image is just a trigger. By viewing an image of a unicorn, activation of an involuntary cognitive process will happen and you recognize the image to be a unicorn. It is impossible to voluntarily stop yourself from understanding that image association. These areas activated are a part of all four lobes of the brain and are a part of the association areas of the cerebral cortex. This is where aspects of memory are separated by modality and rooted throughout the brain.

There are two qualitative aspects of the GSU that are integral to its acceptance; generic in form, and color. The use of the generic allows for a greater scope in memory search. Activating areas that involve other possibilities of previous recognition of this Unicorn. By simplifying the color and line, a flexible language is established and a wider acceptance can be achieved. If an image is attainable, meaning its composition is simplified and generalized, an Ease of Attainment (EoA) is understood. This EoA is opposed to somethings that is refined and complex. If thinking focuses on the complexity of the image, stylistic tendencies takes precedence. This fosters a like or dislike approach to its understanding. When this happens, several other thought structures are used making it impossible to understand as attainable. The GSU needed to be understood and attainable by everyone, children through adults.

To further entrench the illusion of ubiquity, the final Unicorn form was a culmination of my sketches and four other unicorn heads that came up in internet searches. Certain aspects were influenced by these pop culture unicorns that are vague in detail but memorable in form. When any of these other unicorn images are viewed, the thought of the GSU will have a higher tendency to come to mind. All that is needed is a single thought to activate and connect the GSU thought network to the other unicorn network; growing and further entrenching the awareness and spread of the GSU throughout the mind.

What makes the GSU network so unique is not the high entropy state Unicorn, but the low visual entropy secondary image. The secondary image is something that you have never seen before, once you are able to perceive it, the mind does not have a category to place the image in, so it starts a new category for it. This is the creation of an axiom or more precisely an axiomatic concept. This is the seed or beginning of a brand new thought structure in the viewers mind. Like all gestalt switches, once you see the secondary image, you will never not see it again. This cognitive piggybacking helps strengthen the placement and growth of the secondary image thought network; tying its visual understanding to everything the Unicorn understanding is connected to. The tying together, and growth of this new axiom, utilizes a bilateral amodal thought structuring. This bilateral breadth of understandings I like to think of as the Unicorn Brain.

The causational* effect of the cognitive expansion that takes place is unique to this particular GS, in both its visual entropic construction, and the non-experiential uniqueness of this mythical creature. It is because of these unique characteristics that we are able to view the movement of thought. It also creates the ability to realize something that I refer to as the Intus state; Intus being the Latin word for within. This developed understanding allows your cognition to open into a high visual entropy state within the low visual entropy perspective. This structuring is separate and unique from the understanding of the high visual entropy Unicorn and is achievable because of the amodal structuring of a unicorn understanding.

*The term causation has been simplified over the millennia to mean cause and effect. My schooling and teaching uses the term causation as its original form, meaning a relation between entities and not between events. It is a more precise way of understanding the meaning of causation.

So how does one see the movement of thought?

As the GSU is viewed in its high entropy state, slowly switch to the low entropy secondary image. The more this activity is practiced, the slower the switch can be. Each slowed down movement of this shift is your thought moving from one slice of time to another. This is the movement of thought. During this cognitive movement, the image itself does not change, it is only your perspective that changes. We understand time by the changing visual field around us. There is no change at all with this closed structured visual field, but you are clearly seeing one image change to another. This is happening solely in each viewers mind with no outside influence other than the image of the Gestalt Switch Unicorn.

Art is truly objective.

Donald Jackson