Reading Project

By Jessica Pressman, Mark C Marino and Jeremy Douglass

Reading Project

Annotation -- Code -- Fixation Crosses

fixation_mc.attachMovie("fixationCrosses", "myFixationCrosses", 300);

The fixationCrosses appear to prime for white subliminal words, but also obscure the black ones.

from Reading Project
The key animation in this sequence displays the “fixationCrosses,” a group of four white crosses that flash across the cardinal locations of NW, NE, SW, and SE. The term “fixation cross” describes a feature of optometric measurement machinery. It is the plus sign in the center of your visual field when your optometrist asks you to peer into a device for measuring eyesight. It is also part of the history of the tachistoscope, for the visual element is used to focus or fixate the subject’s vision on a particular spot. However, fixation crosses are not, as their name might suggest, meant to ensure that the viewer continues to perceive them. They are visual markers that assist in directing attention [Figure 2.1: The Level 2 movie (pulsing yellow and orange).] but do not necessarily become themselves the object of fixation. Indeed, fixation crosses are used in many tests of visual perception to steady and position the subject’s vision so that peripheral vision can be measured. In other words, it is often what is not displayed at the point of fixation but something else that matters and is the object of study whenever the cross appears. This is important to recognize because fixation crosses serve to index and signify the fact that the viewer’s gaze can be influenced, set by some outside, intervening force. This is what Project does and shows. By priming and fixating the reader’s to focus on the white objects on the screen, Project seems to be cuing the viewer to perceive the subliminal words that appear in white, but the code reveals something very different happening.
(Reading Project, 37-38)

Contents of this annotation:

This page has paths: