This essay was a finalist in Terrain‘s 2011 annual contest.
At first, I see the lake, and then the wetlands, splotches of green amid the blue as far as I can see through the tiny oval airplane window.
After the hurricanes, after the oil—we are late.
The first random dot stereogram was invented by Dr. Bela Julesz in 1959 as an experiment to test stereopsis, the ability to see in three dimensions. By using uniform, randomly distributed dots, Dr. Julesz eliminated the depth cues that are inherent in recognizable images.
Eric lived here for six years and has not been back since January 2005. I have never been here. Accompanying him, I will finally have the visual explanations, the streams of his stories. Trying to catch up to his memory, I strain my eyes to see.
When you diverge your eyes to ‘see’ each looks at adjacent repeats of the pattern, but the brain is fooled into believing that both eyes are still looking at exactly the same thing.
A pattern repeats:
(Visit Terrain.org’s website for the full essay, photo gallery, and audio.)