JOINER OPTICS: A Brief Introduction

A single photograph of the world is a static rendering of, 'more or less’ what our eye sees. However we actually see the world dynamically. Our viewpoint shifts, even if we’re standing still. We change focus. We see things bit by bit but perceive them as a whole.

The Eye

Imagine the wall of China, but not in China. We can put it somewhere flat. Kansas perhaps.
You’re standing directly in front. The wall is so long it appears to stretch to the horizon at both left and right. Question: what is the shape of the wall? As you look forward, the top and bottom of the walls should appear parallel according to standard perspective. Like this:


But we know the lines of the wall appear to go to a point at either horizon, left and right, as you turn your head. So why doesn’t the whole wall look like this next drawing?


Obviously the eye doesn’t see such big jumps in spatial relationships. Think about it. If the centre of that gate is fifty feet from you then simple geometry tells you that where it is sixty and seventy and eighty feet away it will incrementally appear smaller in comparison. So what does the eye really see? As the wall’s distance increases it should appear to curve inwards to left and right. To give a ‘real life’ example:



This of course is why so many photographs in this collection have that tell-tale eye shape.

And this is actually an indication of how we experience the world but most of us don’t see it that way. We are so used from childhood of being told about perspectives that disappear to a point on the horizon with straight lines converging on this centre of vision that we don’t realise that it is a fallacy.

N.b. Nature abhors a vacuum and it really doesn’t like straight lines either. We don’t see ‘straight lines’ except in very special circumstances.