Sensation in Psychology Reading and Workshop Response

What struck me most about the reading, both before and after class, is the discussion of the different thresholds. Absolute Threshold, for example, came into effect when Grace and I were looking at each other for the 5 minutes. I became very aware of the slight movement in her features. My absolute threshold was a lot lower the longer we looked at each other and movements I would not normally notice in everyday life, such as a small twitch in the corner of the mouth, suddenly became much larger. Difference Threshold stood out to me when I was being guided blindly around campus and the Arts Center. Trying to read the change of Grace’s movement and correspond that to my own body was a challenge in noticing the change in pressure. How much pressure did Grace need to exert in order for me to notice her dire for me to change speed, direction, or orientation? Signal Detection came into effect in the same exercise. Due to my lack of sight, the touch of the ground, while normally a background sense I apply little attention to, became a primary signal in my exploration of the surrounding area, as well as keeping me safe from stepping too far into water, stones, or shrubbery. Finally, Sensory Adaption, was notable while exploring 036. My senses adapted to the dark light and I began not to notice it as I found new ways to explore. When I stepped into the beam of the grid lights, however, I detected a change and became aware of the light again before getting used to the brightness and allowing my other senses to come into fruition. This back and forth of spending time in the light and out of it allowed different senses to come into the forefront as I got used to a lack of change in the others.

So why is this important? I think it’s applicable for me, especially with the use of light, in the design of durational sets in a theatrical, performance, or installation setting. For example if the entire back wall was an LED light panel that was getting brighter over a long period of time. As the piece progresses when does each audience member notice the change from the beginning? How can you correspond that change thematically with the other elements of the piece? If you block out the audience’s other senses, or overload their senses with different elements, how does this effect their perception of the change? And, what if it stopped changing half way through, can you trick the audience that it’s still changing slowly, because it’s been changing for so long before that moment?