November 28, 2008
Non-Dominant Eye Experiments – Part 1

It was recently brought to my attention that we humans have a dominant eye – the eye our visual center defaults to, with the other creating our 3-dimensional sense around the first. This seems like common sense, if you’ve ever laid in bed staring at a pillow up close, closing one eye, and then the other. One eye gives a perspective that seems utterly disorienting from when you had both open – the other is just about what you expected.

You can test this for yourself by aligning your thumb with an object in the distance (both eyes open), and closing one eye and then the other. Your dominant eye will show the thumb aligned with the object. Your non-dominant eye will show the thumb quite removed from the object.

I happen to be fascinated, not only by the visual cortex, but also by the workings of the brain hemispheres. I am right-handed, and was often jealous of the off-kilter, creative thinking of my left-handed peers. (For novices on this subject, if you are right-handed, you are left-brain dominant – and logic oriented. If you are left-handed, you are right-brain dominant – and artistically oriented.) When I was in college, I tried writing left-handed for an entire semester to see if it would effect my thinking process, and open up some creativity in the writing I was doing at the time. It was nearly impossible to take legible lecture notes this way, which changed the way I was thinking, in and of itself.

So, when I heard this theory about having a dominant eye, I was intrigued! After performing the test, I discovered that I am right-eye dominant, as well as being right-handed. Of course, my college experiment sprung to mind immediately, and I wondered what would happen if I started taking pictures closing my right eye, and using my left to look through the viewfinder.

First of all, this was physically challenging. I had to really think about closing that right eye. I shot all of the photos in this post with my left eye, and I felt a different kind of mental presence in the exercise, although I am not sure they are altogether more creative than they would have been, had I shot them with my right. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I could sense when my right brain hemisphere had been activated (although wouldn’t that be cool if we could sense that?), but I did find myself very much in the moment, and absorbed in the process of capturing my surroundings in a way that felt fresh and new.

These were taken in the Catskills – in a small town called Medusa, New York.

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