At my age I certainly suffer from the effects of ‘digital zoom’.
Unlike optical zoom, the image produced by digital zoom on a camera
loses quality as you zoom in further - i.e. it spreads the same
amount of pixels over a larger area. Nowadays, the closer I get to
something without my glasses, the more indistinct it becomes! Oh for
the former pleasures of ‘optical zoom’!!
I’ve been reading the thread on “digital zoom” with some interest,
because I think it captures well what happens in the mind of folks
who work on very precise things. Whether a surgeon or a jeweler,
there is an “immersion” that must occur in the work that promotes the
achievement of this zoom effect – when the vision literally excludes
It’s NOT a matter of whether the eyesight is enhanced by magnifiers
or the fingertip manipulation occurs through robotics… it’s really
an issue of intensity of focus on a very precise area.
BUT… I think there’s also a very big danger in this digital zoom
phenomenon. If we work on the same piece day after day, we begin to
"know" it in a way that leads to mistakes. We begin to fool
ourselves into thinking that our digital zoom has given us an
intimate knowledge of this piece of jewelry, so that we no longer
have to LOOK as closely at it. We start making assumptions based on
what we’ve seen in the past and our brains begin to fill in the
blanks. We start seeing what we expect to see, rather than what’s
actually there (the paradigm phenomenon).
I studied oil painting seriously for several years with a wonderful
teacher. One of my consistent habits (that he promptly set out to
break) was to immerse myself in a painting until it was “done.” And
then I was never quite satisfied with the result. He forced me to
keep my paints and brushes on the other side of the room from my
canvas, so that each time I needed to reload my brush I had to walk
away from the canvas and then “re-approach” it as I was walking back
to it. Each time, I was getting a fresher and broader view. Then,
when I would think I was getting close to closure on it, he would
have me put it away for a week or more, sitting with its face to the
wall so it couldn’t be seen. It was truly amazing how different the
work would look to me – how incredibly clearly I could see exactly
what needed to be done to complete my vision – when I looked at it
the next time.
So while digital zoom is a wonderful thing, we also need to learn to
step back and see the bigger (literally) picture.
Karen, I believe you are absolutely right about the phenomenon.
Your painting teacher gave you a great gift with that insight, and it
is most generous of you to share it with all of us. Thank you.
And, many thanks to Hanuman, who makes this gift possible.