The simple answer is “no”
What we see is not light, but experiences created by neural networks within the eye and the brain (what I often refer to as “eye/brain systems”). Although it is true that the visual world that we know could not happen in the absence of the patterns of light that enter our eyes, it is only made manifest to us as a result of what is going on inside our heads. This Post provides a link to Chapter 9 of my book “Painting with Light and Colour”, which describes two demonstrations that show just how great can be the difference between an image predicted on the basis of readings from a light meter and the one we actually experience.
Edwin Land’s demonstrations
The demonstrations have a personal importance because they played a key role in the story of my quest to explain the paradox inherent in the dogmas of Marian Bohusz-Szyszko (explained in Chapter 2). They were devised by Edwin Land, the famous inventor, as a part of his investigation of the phenomenon of “colour constancy”.
More on Land’s demonstration
For another relevant source of information on Land’s demonstration please consult “Land’s colour constancy demonstration”, an edited version of a chapter from my book “What Scientists can Learn from Artists”. You might also want to read the original article in “Scientific American, December 1977”. In this Land explained what he described as his “Retinex theory of colour vision”.
Other chapters from “Painting with Light and Colour”:
- Introduction: the little known Science behind many of the original practical suggestions.
- Chapter 1 : The dogmas
- Chapter 2 : Doubts
- Chapter 3 : The nature of painting
- Chapter 4: Renaissance ideas
- Chapter 5 : New Science on offer
- Chapter 6 : Early Modernist Painters
- Chapter 7 : The perception of surface
- Chapter 8 : Seurat’s new idea
- Chapter 9 : Seeing light
Other Posts on colour and light in painting:
- What are colourists (1): Some of the many meanings of the word
- What are colourists (2): Difference between meaning of the word for Venetian Colourists and for Modernist Colourists?