Rooted in the Body.pdf
When we see an image, an almost irrepressible narrative is created in the mind. Mediated by memory and
the imagination, it shapes and constructs a perception of that image in relation to our surroundings. You
could argue that images become embodied; acting as external referrals they help to stabilise memory which
shapes our senses of self and how we enact in the world. Embodiment is best understood as a social,
cultural and political entity that outlines how we interact and perceive reality.
According to Gregory (2005) there is something significant about Helmholtz (1867) view of perception as
intelligent-decision making. In his study of visual perception, Helmholtz examined the human eye and came
to the conclusion that the optical quality was in fact rather poor and so information gathered via the eye
was not adequate enough for certain perceptions. He insisted that vision could only be the result of some
form of ‘unconscious inferences’ – assumptions and conclusions from incomplete data based on previous
experiences in the world (Gregory, 2005).
Through the senses, the nervous system becomes stimulated and our memories are accessed and repatterned into the brain. What we see is in fact a construction from the mind rather than an actual
representation of reality (Gregory, 2005, pp.4). Through this our perceptions take form; a hypothesis of
what we see and what that means.
According to Aaronson (1914) in his discussion of perception he emphasised that whatever it may be it is
obviously something that has reference to living organisms. He argues perception to be the process by
which we as living beings come to manage the situations we are continuously subjected to. It enables us to
solve problems set for us by the environment we inhabit; ‘it is a process of adjustment to the advantages and
disadvantages, values and disvalues of the situation’ (pp.38) in which we find ourselves in. Therefore
perception is something of uncertainty, holding multiple interpretations and animated by a social and cultural
Furthermore he asserts that seeing and perceiving are generally acts that take place with reference to
further action; conditioned by history and destiny; they are based on predictions and probabilities. This could
be likened to Sartre’s (1940; 2004) view of perception as a particular attitude towards the world; which will
be discussed in more detail later on in this assignment. It is an internal activity through which we take
possession of our environment.