The following essay was published by Andrew Rafacz Gallery in a catalogue for Robert Burnier’s solo show, Inland Delta.
“Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows — only hard and with luminous edges — and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas, a few years ago, I should have said ‘my universe:’ but now my mind has been opened to higher views of things.” — Edwin A. Abbott, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, 1884.
Two eyes set parallel in the front of the human head provide a line of sight with limitations and subjective peculiarities. Objects observed by other methods likely appear fundamentally different. Take the rabbit who, has eyes on either side of its skull, can see 360 degrees around its body at once. Their visually immersive experience of the world nevertheless affords a central blind spot in front of their nose making any three-dimensional experience of nearby objects impossible. A tennis ball by their feet, for example, would read like a flat circle. Or consider the Barreleye fish, a strange deep sea creature with tubular lenses inside of its semi-transparent head. Its lenses are sensitive enough to recognize flitting prey as it swims overhead, like shadow puppets passing across a back lit screen. Any time they direct their attention to the ceiling of the ocean, they invariably look through their own semi-transparent gelatinous matter. Add to that their additional ability to look straight forward, over top their very small mouths. Such fish must experience depth in an entirely different fashion, but countless other examples exist. Different modes of sensory apprehension — sight, smell, touch etc. — combine with physical constraints — the setting of one’s eyes is just one example — to engender different systems of logic, and desire. Within each logical system, the same objects appear to one another: the tennis ball, the ocean, the rabbit, the plastic bag, the human, all manifesting differently according to the subjective proclivities of its beholder.