Other Ways of Knowing

by Alexandra Lethbridge

Other Ways of Knowing is an exploration into the illusion of magic and misdirection in comparison to ideas of criminal hoax, deceit and trickery. The pairing of these concepts, visually aims to examine how our perceptions interpret and inform our understanding of information in different contexts through the employment of deceptive clues, false emphasis, and symbolic meaning.

How we interpret information can be understood through methods described as ‘Ways of Knowing’; the tools that help us scientifically break down how we come to acquire knowledge.

There are eight methods, Language, Sense-perception, Emotion, Reason, Imagination, Faith, Intuition and Memory. My series Other Ways of Knowing focuses on visual perception; against that of our own instinct. Adapting these methods by concentrating on aesthetic judgements rather than abstract reasoning, the photographs play with intuitive understandings of what we’re seeing and ask us to judge for ourselves whether what we encounter is fact or fiction.

Biologically, everyone perceives in the same way. The function of the eye determines the visual sensory perception of what we see, but the differences between what we see and what we understand come from cognitive perception, determining the interpretation of those images. With this series, I question this interpretation and re-examine what we see, or think we see. I’m interested in how what we expect to see, affects what we actually observe and if that can be manipulated.

I’m partnering this interest with the concept of a magic performance designed to subliminally influence choice by exploiting the limitations of our cognitive and sensory functions. Challenging logic, magicians intentionally exploit how their audiences think. Their illusions force us to reconsider our environment and our interaction with it. Other Ways of Knowing is a visual representation of magical performances designed to promote uncertainty in the viewer’s understanding of what they see.