What Jacob and I have been discussing for many moons now is the idea of reversing the normally accepted direction of information streams. Most often this refers to acoustic information and the essence of our talks might be contained in some early titles of lectures I gave in the late 90s, for example "Acoustic Cells and Membranes" Tuebingen 06/12/99, which later mutated into the rather more science fiction-like, "Membranes in Space and the Transmitting Ear".

This came out of research in the field of Active Perception. One hardly need look, or rather hear, any further than the phenomena of Oto-Acoustic Emissions (OAEs, measurable sounds emerging from the ear), to grasp that unless some action takes place on the part of the receiver, then incoming signals may remain unperceived. Due to the active, mechanical components that go to make up the physiology of the ear, it is possible to construct a model where certain physical aspects of hearing actually take place outside the body, at the entrance to the ear.

A much earlier source for our conversations on reversability sprung from the Pre-Socratics. Some 2500 years ago Empedocles formulated a theory of perception that was significantly located between two alternative hypotheses. In the case of vision, simply put, one stated that objects emanated light that shone into the eye. The other concept was somehow the reverse, that the eye functioned like a projector, illuminating the object. The thinking of Empedocles embraced both these notions with the proposition that the eye did indeed engage the object by casting its gaze upon it. But, at the same time the object shone back toward the viewer. This opens up the possibility for perception of the object to be located more or less in between the seer and the seen, at an interface outside the body where the two streams of light collide.

The action of simultaneous broadcasting and reception can be modelled as a contra-flow of information passing through itself, (feedthrough?). The transmitting ear, with its active mechanisms of receiving, raises information-theoretical questions about the medium. It is as if our sense of the world is no more nor less than the resulting interference patterns of information streaming into and out of our bodies, that the medium is simply nodal densities of content becoming both the cause of - and simultaneously being displayed upon - an ethereal skin of interference.

Anthony Moore, Arles 2008