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Forums Home : Malperception : Al(ternative) perceptions   view project   project page  
Perry Hoberman & Donald Hoffman's project "Malperception" explores the way in which the human brain constructs reality based on data collected by sensing organs, and that while sometimes wrong takes are caused by failure to collect information about reality, quite often malperception occurs during the brain's translation of that information.

This controlling idea is apparent in an engaging and pedagogical context. The research is clearly extensive and the multimedia format allows each phenomenon to be divulged in its own respective manner.

This is a good assembly of intriguing visual abnormalities. Some are more well-known, others less so; the occurrence of prosopagnosia, for instance, is well-documented in the literature. A point of concern is that with regard to some of the lesser-known conditions, which the viewer may not have heard of before, it is hard to assess their verifiability- the site has the general appearance of fact mixed with fiction.

The web exhibition is proportional to the project in that one can easily jump around from a static menu bar. Each link leads to a considerable amount of textual information that has been boiled down from its original state and broken up into short paragraphs and surrounded by images that keep it from feeling uninviting or daunting.

Overall the project does a great job at taking a large amount of information and making it easily browsed and digested. One concern is that the supplemental interactive Shockwave demonstrations of the malperception principles being discussed are incompatible with new Mac computers running on Intel chipsets until Adobe updates the old macromedia plugins or Mac updates its OS.

Also, some accompanying pictures could be slightly misleading- eg, the image of a grotesque werewolf-like head accompanying the paraprosopia description- in the picture, the entire head has been transformed by the internal distorted perceptions of the sufferer, whereas patients only report transformation of one part of the head. The average viewer, however, should be able to tell that the image is not a scientific representation, but is meant to contribute to the accessible, popular-reading feel of the project.

Many reports are presumably based on anecdotal evidence, since these conditions are very rare and techniques for measurement are hard to devise. This is possibly sufficient for general audience who just wants brief introduction to a fascinating and diverse range of syndromes, but as a resource for those who want further info, it would be enhanced if extensive citations and links to background literature were provided.
- Dustin Robert Johnson, USC School of Cinematic Arts, 10.09.2007