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On Being Stereoblind in an Era of 3D Movies

1 August 2012


I happen to have a visual impairment known as strabismus, which means that the information from my eyes is not successfully fused in my brain, so I lack stereoscopic vision. Hence I was surprised to find I could see some depth effects of recent 3D films such as Wim Wenders’s Pina. This experience has prompted me to explore both further information about binocular vision and various disputes about the aesthetic merits of 3D films. My paper takes up the following topics: (1) a review of information about binocular vision and the problem of strabismus; (2) a summary of 3D film history and techniques; (3) a discussion of the aesthetic merits and deficits of some “best cases” of contemporary 3D films, concluding with (4) assessments of the meaning of claims about 3D cinema’s alleged superior “realism.” I consider three proposals about the superior realism of 3D movies with the aim of summarizing what the latest ventures in this mode mean to those of us who lack normal binocular vision.


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