The ratio of nature
The golden ratio is the ratio between the elements of a form such that the sum of two elements are in the same ratio to the larger one, as are the larger and smaller elements to each other (see the rectangle below). This ratio approximates 1.618 (or 0.618; the two numbers are the reciprocals of each other) and is found throughout nature (for example in many seashells), art, architecture and also in the dimensions of the human body. It is also called the golden mean, golden number, golden section, golden proportion and divine proportion, and is closely linked to the Fibonacci Sequence (read more here) as the ratio of numbers in this sequence converges on the golden ratio.
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The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio
“The hands want to see, the eyes want to caress.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“The task of architecture is to make visible how the world touches us” - Juhani Pallasmaa paraphrasing Merleau-Ponty
Are we seeing too much?
In The Eyes of the Skin, Juhani Pallasmaa argues for the importance of our sense of touch and the dangerous dominance of vision in our thinking, design and buildings. Vision was the last of the senses to develop in evolutionary terms, but has become our dominant sense accounting for around two-thirds or more of sensory processing (you can read more on vision here and more on touch here). Like all the other senses, our sight is embedded in our skin and is an adaptation of it. Vision originated as light sensitive skin cells, and our eyes still have a covering of skin. Our skin is still sensitive to light and experiments have shown that some people are even able to detect colour from their skin’s sensitivity alone (that is, they can see with their skin!). Read more »