A large-format book with color pictures of common objects often overlooked: sand, a twig, the night sky, the inside of your own eye.

Chest X-Ray, c. 2006. A number of things can be seen here that are commonly visible in such images: the slight lesions in the lungs, possibly pretubercular; and the large amount of gas in the stomach.

Moths’ and butterflies’ wings may seem to come in an infinite variety of patterns, but with a little work you can learn to “read” them. They all follow what is called a “basic Namphalid ground plan” that can be learned in about 20 minutes.

Some stamps are studied closely and others are barely seen. This is a stamp from the Indian state Bhor (now a city); it did not matter that it was smudged, because people didn’t read it: they only expected a red pattern on their letters.

How to Use Your Eyes

(New York: Routledge, 2000 / 2009)

A nicely designed large-format book with color pictures of common objects that are often overlooked: sand, a twig, the night sky, the inside of your own eye, the sunset, moths’ wings, sand, cracks in the pavement, hieroglyphs, ice halos, fingerprints, crystals, the lines in a face, the ripples in a muscular back, the intricate parts of a machine...

The thirty short chapters in the book have instructions on how to see these things, with all words for all their parts. The idea is to draw attention to parts of the ordinary (and not-so-ordinary) world that we look at too quickly, or fail to notice altogether. This is a book of solitary seeing, exercises and opportunities to slow down and look at the world more carefully.

Sand grains. A great deal can be seen in sand, using only a magnifying glass. It takes an average of 200 million years for a mountain range to erode and be swept down to the ocean. Some grains of sand have been on that journey several times, from mountain to ocean beach, to rock, uplifted to mountain... the sense of time in single grains of sand can be hypnotic.