I want to turn the world inside out. Well, I guess I would be happy with just a room for now. If you saw my room, you might say it was already inside out, so what on earth am I talking about?
It started one day in French class. We were looking at pictures Madame Cowherd had taken on her vacation in France. She showed us a series of pictures taken from the center of a garden in Paris, all from the same point of view, by turning around in one spot. When lined up, they overlapped to form a giant panoramic view of the garden and the buildings surrounding it. "Chouette, c'est superbe!" I said. It struck me that the same building was visible on either end of the line up, yet someone could have fooled me that it was only a long row of buildings, and these two simply looked very similar.
Later that day, I could not get those pictures out of my head. Questions raced through my mind; "If the pictures were large enough to fill your entire sight, could you trick someone to think they were actually there?" "What would happen if you included the sky in your panoramic shot?" and "What if you took enough pictures to capture every angle at once?" Late into the night, I would realize it would be months before I unraveled even the smallest corner of this problem.
I started out with a vision of us, living in giant spheres, all of our surroundings simply intricate paintings on the wall. All right, imagine you have a camera suspended from the ceiling in a room, and you take pictures of every possible angle. Be very careful not to move the spot from where the camera takes these pictures. Now, suppose we overlapped these pictures like the garden in France, but this time in the shape of a sphere, say, on the inside of a large ball. If you were inside this ball, it would be a very accurate replica of what was in real life. The floor of my room would still be completely buried in about five inches of college mail (only I wouldn't have to deal with it). All distances and dimensions would remain un-distorted. The illusion would disappear when you moved from where the camera took the pictures, but it is a kinda neat idea, n'est-ce pas?
I spent hours discovering the mathematics and physics behind this phenomenon, numerous relationships including how the focus of the camera would affect the size of the sphere, but a subject could not tell the difference anyway. Imagine two mountains, one twice as tall, but also twice as far away as the other. We would perceive the two in the same way. It was about a week later, discussing this with a friend late at night standing in his driveway, when I first started asking really abstract questions.
"What if we lined up these pictures on the outside of a sphere instead?" It took seemingly forever to visualize what might happen, but I think there are drastic and phenomenal results. It is like, well, turning space inside out. If our point in space (where we took the pictures) perceived in all directions, then should that point still perceive the same way, after being turned "inside out"? And if so, has that point become so large as to surround our sphere, actually become the "outside," thereby being able to perceive all the way around?
Think of what this might mean. I could see a new school of art, dealing with turning space inside out, using drawing and painting as well as photography. Picasso wanted to show the front and back of a subject simultaneously on a flat surface, and thus was born Cubism. Could an artist instead expand a subject to become the outside of its perception, actually become what we call the outside? And if so, could we accurately represent this on a spherical surface. So far, I have yet to come up with a practical way to get spherical paper, though I have picked up the skill of paper-making along the journey. When I tried to shape the paper around a ball, it turned into a lumpy mess, and every bowl in my house has a flattened out surface where it rests. I guess I can't really draw either, but I've always wanted to try, and what better reason?
And what if one was to build an inside-out room, so it would fill our entire perspective? I think you could place it in front of someone so they believed they were actually in the room. Simply turning the sphere would appear like turning your head, without doing anything. We have turned a room inside out, and we might be fooled into thinking it never happened.
Now what if instead of a flat photograph, we had actual matter, real objects, in its place? What if we built a model of everything we can see from a certain spot and put it together "inside out"? Taking pictures was easier to visualize, because the focus of the camera dictated how large objects would be, but now everything would be messed up. I think we would have to make things bigger the closer they were, and squish distant things together. This could have neat consequences. Maybe we could build a house to live in with a tenth of the materials. Imagine turning the endless heavens above us inside out, compressing the limitless miles of space into the breadth of a few feet, but having it still be real matter. Is this the key to space travel at velocities greater than that of light a feat previously held to be impossible? And if so how do we do it? And what would happen? Or is the universe actually like this, and we cannot tell, because it has never been any other way? And if we find out, what happens then?
Geez, I don't know. Did I tell you about my recent musical composition? I'm trying to see just how many notes I can have played at the same time without making people cringe. Why do we shy away from dissonant sounds, anyway? It seems to me that ...
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.