Videoecology is a new scientific direction deals with ecology of visual environment and a beauty
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The concept on automaticity of saccades is the basis of videoecology.
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Theoretical and practical problems of videoecology are worked out in Moscow centre "Videoecology"
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The full concept of saccades automaticity is set out in V.A.Filin's monographs "Videoecology", in Russian (3 editions) and in English and "Automaticity of saccades", in Russian
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In many countries of the world the problem of ecology has merged as a real matter of economic and social importance. At present, this matter attracts close attention of scientific, public and parliamentary circles. However, when speaking about ecological problems it usually relates only to sufficiency of polluted air and water, extremely high noise and radiation level but the constant visual environment and its condition are never mentioned as an ecological factor which is not of the least importance. Moreover, it is a common thing to consider that all we need is fresh air, clear water and silent life and we care nothing about what we look at. Being governed by such an attitude, one often handles urban environment design, new l abor vacancies creation, industrial and living areas interior development. And meanwhile, as it was discovered by the science, the constant visual environment full of visual elements exerts an immense influence upon the human being especially affecting its organ of sight, i.e. it acts the same way other ecological factors of inhabited environment do. This new scientific trend developing visual perception of environment was named videoecology by us [V.A.Filin, 1989]. This is a high-priority scientific trend being of great interest for experts in ecology, psychology, physiology, medicine, architecture and art.

The problem of videoecology has particularly aggravated in recent 50 years due to the total urbanization which isolated the human being from its natural visual environment. This isolation was made possible mostly due to the use of new materials in urban development. As a result we have a lot of cities with drastically changed visual environment, i.e. prevailing dark-gray color, straight lines and right angles, urban buildings being mostly static with a great number of vast surfaces. Homogeneous and "aggressive" zones are especially disturbing for a man. In case of homogeneity these are bare walls made of concrete and glass, solid fences, subway crossing and asphalted surfaces, whereas in case of "aggression" we are facing standards elements predominance, e.g. rows of windows on the flat walls of many-storeyed buildings.

Visual environment has been transformed for city population due to the nature of urban labor. People work in rooms, i.e. in closed space - at plant and factory workshops, at schools and colleges. The interior is full of new materials of artificial nature, such as polished furniture, plastics, linoleum, tiles, films, glass, corrugated aluminum, net screens, grills and bars, design structures, etc. Visual environment in private apartments is made up with same kind of materials.

Television rushed into our life to aggravate the problem of video-ecology. One watches TV up to 4 hours a day, which reasonably makes one call a television set a "vision-chewing gum". Video level of TV broadcasting hardly meets standards of vision. Apart from frame and line frequency and unnatural range of colors, the same straight lines, right angles and displayed bars attack us from the screen. Dangerous visual effects are also produced by massive use of computers in everyday life - in fact, every tenth person operates PC during working hours.

New lighting technologies, i.e. fluorescent lamps, flash tubes, lasers should be considered as other visual environment transforming factors. Illumination devices of theaters and concert halls are more expensive and sophisticated compared with sound engineering. Lighting is controlled by a complex of PCs and advanced software. The similar lighting technologies are everywhere in urban areas full of advertising boards with running text and fast frame shifting.

Massive implementation of various transport facilities into man's life has enormously transformed the modern visual environment of people. A car driver gets extra visual stress while watching objects in movement, highway that runs ahead, trees, poles and buildings appearing for a moment, cars rushing in the opposite direction, traffic lights. Same view is experienced by a passenger traveling by bus, trolley-bus, train, ship or aircraft. People have become more dynamic thus catching more moving objects in their field of vision.

Objects in movement are often faced by a man dealing with manufacture process, e.g. assembly lines, escalators, running wheels, packing, grinding, weaving and printing machines, etc. Besides, during a working day a man is being surrounded by monotonous things, such as newspapers, books, fabrics of the same color, milk and eggs packs, bottles, machinery parts and components, electronic chips, decorative tiles, etc.

Dwelling upon importance of the problem of videoecology, we should mention man's progressing exploration of extraordinary areas, such as the North Polar region, the Arctic and the Antarctic as well as sea depths and underground spaces. Population of the Norilsk city, for instance, always remain within unusual visual environment with a short daylight period in winter and a long one in summer. Not always favorable visual environment exists in the newly settled areas, e.g. the Navoi city in arid deserts, oil fields in the Caspian Sea, etc.

The problem of videoecology is still urging due to the lack of scientifically invented basic laws on visual environment formation and requirements as per permissible allowances, particularly for reasonable size limits of homogeneous and aggressive zones in urban architecture. Visual environment swift transformation contradicts the capabilities of vision. The human being still remains the same with its amount of needs and so do the basics of vision methods while the visual environment in populated areas is getting worse.

According to the World Health Organization, urbanization process leads to steady rise of mental diseases. Unnatural visual environment totally surrounds us and together with other factors also adds to the problems mentioned, and as we see, it really does. The spontaneous scientific and technical progress nowadays has demonstrated its contradictions in a mighty and inevitable way. Thus, if human survival process goes in a wrong way, it is immediately followed by negative consequences at the global level.

In 1992 the World Ecology Conference was held in Rio de Janeiro. The Rio forum of 179 delegated nations stated the most important aspects of the world's mankind harmonious development. The Rio summit resulted in adopting the following five documents: the declaration on environment and development; the 21st century's agenda - steady development program from social ecological and economic points of view; the declaration on principles of woods preservation; the United Nations convention on climate transformation and on biological variety.

The Rio forum demonstrated the mankind's concept of the global ecological problems which are a threat to all living on the Earth. But in spite of the human factor considered to be important by the forum, no one touched upon the problem of visual environment which concerns practically everyone. This might lead to fatal results as it is well known that every ecological correction needs enormous expenditures.

There are a lot of problems accumulated in the field of videoecol-ogy, not a bit fewer than in other fields of ecology, and many of them demand for urgent solution. While water and air condition as well as radiation level are monitored and studied by quite a number of research institutes and big departments, the problem of videoecology is just a few people's concern so far. That is why this problem is unknown for both city folk and experts in architecture, design, art, modeling, medicine. This book, as it seems to us, will be of use for specialists and every interested reader. Its purpose is to provide architects, artists and designers with information for a motivated solution of the problems of videoecology in the course of designing buildings, installations, machinery, instruments, consumer goods and clothes.


Visual environment is one of the principal components of life-support of a human being. Up to the moment a human being stayed in natural environment for a greater part of his time, there were practically no problems in the field of videoecology. Moreover, using the words of poet A. Beliy, "around the soul is drinking a diamond current from the eyes". Urbanization processes completely ruled out the possibility to enjoy surrounding environment, and instead of "diamond current around" a human being has got homogeneous and aggressive environment which, being unnatural one, not only fails to afford aesthetic delight but brings forth a great number of social problems. Videoecology which studies interaction of a human being with surrounding environment constitutes an actual problem among the problems of human ecology.

From our point of view, creation of unnatural visual environment was caused by the following reasons: revolutionary approach in solving urban development issues, erroneous aesthetic positions of specialists whose viewpoints were based on industrial methods and necessity of fighting against extravagances, rapid growth of cities when there was a practical lack of creative potential from the part of architects, rapid growth of construction industry with its automated production lines of similar construction materials, separation of a human being from the nature, and finally, a lag of videoecology as a science. We would like to speak in detail about the latter one. That is associated with the fact that if architects had been guided by the laws of visual perception in their creative work, we may say for sure that such serious blunders in forming urban visual environment could have been avoided.

We can hear objections that there have been reproaches against modern architecture before as well. Yes, it is true. However, in general these reproaches were subjective: "faceless boxes", "monstrous geometry", "technocracy", "environment is injured with inexplicable and alien forms" [F.C.Volkmann, 1962; Y.Vuec, 1990], etc. With little exception [E.L.Belyaeva, 1977], there were practically no attempts to analyze visual environment, where townsmen found themselves, in its integrative form. On the other hand, those researchers who touched the mechanism of visual perception of modern architecture had grounds based on dated conceptions. They did not take into account the fact that the eye is working in the active mode, it is searching for what it can "seize" in urban environment, what "to catch", what "to go at". Speaking scientific language, the eye is scanning surrounding environment. Such activity of the eye is achieved owing to the nature of its rapid movements - saccades. Saccades are performed constantly and involuntarily, both with open and closed eyes, when we are awake, and when we sleep [V.A.Filin, 1977, 1990, 1992]. The total number of saccades under different conditions have comparable values. On the basis of these data we have laid down a concept about saccadic automation [V.A.Filin, 1977]. It means that in most cases a saccade is primary. And that fact that the eye will see after the saccade is secondary. In this case, after saccade the eye must "catch" something. As soon as that happens, the eye calms down, and the amplitude of its saccades is decreased up to minimum values, the number of saccades, in this case, remains the same. In 2-3 seconds the eye scans surrounding environment another time by several saccades and again stops on a detail minimizing saccadic amplitude.

There are individual cases when a saccade is secondary, for instance, as a response to light flash. In order to fix a look on an object which appears in the vision field, saccadic center selects a saccade of corresponding amplitude and orientation, that is their modulation is performed, and the interval is given in a previous form.

The concept on saccadic automation is a new idea on visual perception of surrounding environment. That is what allowed us to study the problem of videoecology. From the position of new experience we have analyzed urban visual environment: we have found fields not complying with saccadic automation and other vision mechanisms.

Thus, we may say that videoecology is based not only on subjective statements but on regularities of visual perception. That is the principal difference of our analysis of modern architecture from previous reproaches to its address.

Homogeneous and aggressive fields bring a lot of trouble s to townsmen. A homogeneous field is a surface with visible elements, or their number is minimum. Blind fences, plain doors, large size panels, one-piece glass, underground passages, asphalt coat and roofs of houses are examples of homogeneous fields in urban environment. In apartments homogeneous fields begin from the entrance door, continue with polished furniture sections and cabinets, and finish with plain plastic items in the kitchen.

Aggressive visible field is a field with concentration of a great number of similar elements. Such environment is created by multistory buildings with a great number of windows on the wall, attached vertical rustics, panels of houses coated with glass "toffees", walls coated with tiles, brickwork with concealed joint, doors padded with "lining" as well as various bars, meshes, perforated boards, corrugated aluminum, asbestos-cement board, etc. Under urban conditions one aggressive field is often applied over the another one, for instance, a house wall with attached rustics behind a metallic bar.

Fundamental vision mechanisms such as saccadic automation, binocular apparatus, conversion, on- and off- systems and vision centers cannot operate in aggressive and homogeneous environment to the full extent. In particular, in homogeneous environment impaired is the feedback between sensor and motor systems since after successive saccade illumination difference on eye photoreceptors is insufficient. Accordingly, after the saccade the brain receives a minimum pulse insufficient for reliable feedback actuation. In other words, an action has taken place - saccade, but there is no confirmation to this action. As a result vision centers and the nerve system as a whole are confused. That in turn causes a perception of discomfort. Durable stay of a human being in such environment leads to disturbance of saccadic automation.

Decor of buildings does not mean "architectural extravagances" which our literature has written a lot about. These are essential functional elements comprising the basis of visual environment. Without them the eyes cannot operate to the full extent. As in the air there must be a sufficient quantity of oxygen, in visible environment there must be a sufficient number of elements. Abundance of same elements in visible environment - windows on the wall of a big house, tiles or rods - we may say, completely "switches off" such a powerful sensor channel as a vision analyzer since the eye simply "does not know" what particular element it is fixing. In natural environment no such things can happen. In the nature, if the eye looks at something, it "knows" that. The vision apparatus, in this case, correctly evaluates reality, and easily and rapidly orients in it accordingly.

In all big cities the number of mental diseases has recently increased. Specialists called this disease "a syndrome of a big city" which often shows itself in human aggressiveness. Among many factors unnatural visible environment greatly contributes, in our opinion, to the growth of mental diseases. The statement made by Avicenna: "All that the nature managed to accumulate invisibly enters the nature of the body". If we intend to further build cities as we do it nowadays, lunatic asylums in cities should be built dozen times as quicker.

The problem of videoecology does not relate only to medical aspects. The point is that aggressive environment makes a human being perform aggressive actions. As a rule, in new communities with unnatural visual environment the number of breaches of law is more as compared with a central part of a city. This means that not only lunatic asylums should be built dozen of times as quicker, but it is also necessary to increase the staff of militia. It is quite obvious that errors committed in evaluation of human ecology become global every time.

Architecture is a durable, expensive and raw material intensive layer of culture where giant physical and intellectual efforts of the civilized society are materialized. These efforts should not be made in vain. Above all, architectural objects should please the eye. They should positively affect, in emotional and ethic respect, a human being who stays under their influence all life long, and of course, they should not damage health of townsmen.

Architecture constantly affects a human being and mainly at the back of its mind. Right was Victor Pelevin when he was writing: " Things you see every day for many years gradually pass into a monument to your own... To see actually means to put your soul on a standard copy on the retina of a standard human eye" ("Anthology of childhood"). If an adjoining aggressive house is "put" on a human soul, "a monument to your own" is converted into a multocular monster.

According to Aristotle, a city should provide security for people and make them happy. Unfortunately, this rule was broken in all times, and in recent 50 years it has been forgotten at all. As a result, a human being has become a victim of his own creative work surrounding himself by aggressive visual environment.

A city is living organism and, as any other organism, is constantly renovated. The principle of city formation form the position of comfort visual environment could become that "idea of a city" which would unite all its inhabitants. Everything that is designed for a human being should meet at least physiological needs of his vision. Unless and until a designer is oriented towards a final result of his work, his designs will be devised with evident ignorance to saccadic automation which provides for constant scanning of surrounding environment. "To embrace the space, cognize how to see it (accentuated by us) - that is the key to correct comprehension of atask" (Bruno Dzevi). In old times many architects managed this. It was often achieved not only by embracing the space but also by variety of forms, lines, multistory level, diversity of stories in buildings, small sizes of surfaces and different decorative elements. In a word, everything was done for sufficient saturation of an object with visible elements in order "to oblige" saccadic automation.

On the other hand, such saturation was not to the detriment of aesthetic merits since diversity of details is an objective basis for the beauty of an object. It is quite obvious that it is impossible to create a beautiful object and , certainly, very difficult to create comfort visual environment of a city only with right angles and straight lines which the eye "does not like" and which prevail in modern architecture. It would rather be a cacophony characterized by the worst combination of sensor stimuli.

As it was stated in the enactment of the CPSU CC issued in November 1955 ("On elimination of extravagances in designing and construction"), decorative details in architecture are not extravagances. They are necessary elements for formation of visual environment. It is not by accident architects have used them for many centuries. They have functional meaning, they are needed for manifestation of saccadic automation as the air for breath automation. He who was the first to say about "architectural extravagances" hurt us all; suffered was not only aesthetic part but fundamental vision mechanisms and lives of townsmen were also threatened. A human was living in natural visible environment for millions years. 90 per cent of his history he spent in harmony with the nature. Now in XX century he found himself in quite unusual environment - in stone and asphalt jungles.

Until now problems of theoretical investigations have borne a stamp of traditional approach to architecture as three-dimensional designing. Ignored are general issues of urban development including issues of visual environment. The lack of valuable theory enables to get effective and justified practical recommendations. Many architects are aware of this reason. Here what A. Gutnov writes in this regard: "It is necessary to direct all efforts in order to develop a new type architectural theory based on the knowledge of general regularities of artificial environment created by a human being, of mechanisms of its formation and development".

It is, probably, worth to remind what the source is to create artificial environment and urban environment in particular. Such components as air, water, temperature, noise and radiation level, homogeneous fields are known to be a basis of human environment. However, all these components, though very important, are indirectly related to the theory of architecture since architecture, as it may be directly comprehended, means an external appearance of buildings. This an object we look at with our eyes, or, speaking by architect Melnikov's words "architecture is a game for eyes". Thus, "development of new type architectural theory" should be carried out taking into account requirements of visible environment. And it should base on general regularities of visual perception (fig. 159, 160).

We are glad to remind that architect N. Ladovskiy related this issue with understanding yet in 20-s. "Architect, - he wrote - should, though just a little, be familiar with perception laws and means of influence in order to use in his work everything that modern science can give. Among sciences contributing to architecture a serious place should be taken by rather young science "psycotechnics" (accentuated by us). We won't argue with terminology of those years, the main thing is the backbone which in many ways coincides with our point of view since both videoecology and psycotechnics are based on the laws of visual perception. It is fair to say that nowadays we know more about these laws than in 20-s. In particular, we know that saccadic automation is the basis of visual perception [N.Ladovskiy, 1926]. However, the approach of N. Ladovskiy was correct. And if it was further developed, many errors in formation of urban environment could have been avoided.

In places where laws of visual perception were followed to the full extent, architecture has no reproaches. Let us take, for instance, Novodevichiy monastery on the territory of which a man feels comfortable though as per the state of air, water as well noise and radiation level this territory does not differ from other Moscow areas. Replace mentally monastery temples with modern "box-houses" and you will feel horror of a modern city and understand the main problem of architecture based on satisfying physiological needs of visual perceptions and aesthetic norms. And we learn to follow these requirements, we will decide many problems of the architectural theory. In the most common form the theory of architecture goes easily with the triad of Vitruvius: reliable, comfortable, lovely. We can say with confidence that we have learned to make everything reliable. In many cases engineering issues of urban development are solved successfully. We can build houses with amenities: elevator, gas, cold and hot running water, bathroom, lavatory, chute have become a norm of our life. But, unfortunately, we have unlearned to make lovely. Everywhere we violate requirements on visual environment. In fact, in this regard the era of spontaneity has recently come. Abundance of aggressive and homogeneous visual environment makes a modern city practically unfit for human habitation. Modern urban development is often given the credit of elaboration of sanitary and hygienic aspects and insolation standards. We can say that transport and engineering mains are also built rather well. We are sure that soon we will learn to take into account geopathogen areas as well. Unfortunately, we are not sure that we will learn to solve as quickly the problems of videoecology. That is connected with the fact that textbooks, articles, sanitary norms and regulations have created "blinders" which limit professional conscience of architects. "It is difficult to puzzle out in a boodle of words and symbols, - writes Yacub Vuec, - which today mean something new than when they were declared for the first time, it needs a lot of time" [Y.Vuec, 1990]. On the other hand, it is difficult to dispute the advance of the construction industry which dictated its approaches in urban development. That is why elaboration of issues of videoecology is quite relevant. Videoecology may be a theoretical basis capable of solving many key issues in the development of the architectural science. As any theoretical development, this is a painstaking job but that is this job which seems far form today needs is the only reliable way to effective practical recommendations.

What shall we do in this situation? First of all, specialists on ecology, architects, artists, doctors, physiologists, psychologists as well as law-making and executive public bodies should be aware of the problem of videoecology. Videoecology should become a phenomenon of mass conscience. If we want that to happen, videoecology should occupy a corresponding place in the educational process. Videoecology as a subject should be taught in architectural institutes, artistic colleges, schools.

Only if we make definite efforts, we can make a progress in improving visual environment. First of all, it is necessary to analyze and make maps of "pollution" of visual environment of cities. Such maps can give an idea about the nature of the disaster and will permit to develop measures in order to change the situation to the best. Certainly, in this case, it is necessary to preserve all valuable things we have - everything that pleases the eye. To make maps it is necessary to work out a method and devices on evaluation of visual environment.

A program on population displacement should be made out on the state level. With our vast territories it is much easier to solve this problem as compared with other peoples. Every Russian citizen can live "inside" the nature and in full harmony with it. By no means one should increase the number of cities and their sizes as it has been done until now. Sometimes when reading lectures I have to hear reproaches saying that videoecology is no business of Russia at present. There are a lot of other urgent problems. Indeed, there are: decline of the production level, cost-in-living increase, inflation, moral and ethic problems, discord between nations, and wars. It seems to us that Yu. Koryakin was right when he wrote about the reasons which led to such consequences: "We found ourselves on a razor-edge first of all because we have lost love to life. W e will be saved not only by repulsion from death but by attraction to life".

How can preconditions to attract our fellow citizens to life be created? That is the main question. We can a lot of food, good hospitals and good medicines, but if a man has no "attraction to life", there cannot be a question about active longevity. And if a man does not value his own life, he does not value all that is living around him, and he kills forests, rivers, animals. We can go the already known way and create another committee at President's level. For example, "Committee on attraction of Russian citizens to life". But such a committee will hardly be capable of fulfilling such a global task. To solve it is necessary to attract the whole intellectual potential of the country, that is - scientists, religious personalities, personalities of culture and art, academics. Videoecology can make a great contribution in solving this problem. We have owned a principally new knowledge which radically changes our conception about the practice of urban development.

In our opinion, comfort visual environment may contribute to attraction to life. Cheerfulness of inhabitants of south coasts of Greece, Italy and other favorable corners of Earth is explained namely by comfort visible environment. Surrounding beauty is a key to solution of many problems. It can fill the life with contents and "attract" a man to life. Architects and other specialists responsible for urban environment should aim at creating the beauty. F. Dostoyevskiy did not say that abundance of foodstuffs would save the world but he said: "The beauty will save the world". This statement may be evaluated as a large scientific discovery the implementation of which we have not started yet. Abundance of foodstuffs can secure physiological welfare of a human being but it cannot guarantee attraction to life, whereas the beauty has a universal influence upon a human soul. And that is the beauty which is able to fulfill this task.

Further developing his expression which has become very popular, F. Dostoyevskiy wrote: "If a people preserves the ideal of the beauty and the need for it, that means there is a need of health, norm, and accordingly, that guarantees a superior development of that people". It is quite obvious that it is impossible to awake a need for the beauty with people surrounding it by aggressive visual environment everywhere. People should constantly stay in comfort visual environment. Only in such a way we can develop a need for the beauty with Russian people, thus achieving its superior development. Videoecology may serve as a methodological basis for solving this global problem. Principles and methods of videoecology permit not spontaneously, as it has been done until now, but consciously to form visual environment of Russian cities.

comfortable and aggressive buildings Fig.158. Left picture - Notre Dame Cathedral (1345). Right picture - one of the buildings in La Defense (1955) consisting of straight lines, right angles and great planes (Paris, France)
Comfortable and aggressive buildings Fig. 159. Left picture - Morozov's House in Vozdvigenka st. (the end of XIX - the beginning of XX centuries). Right picture - a house in Kalugskaya sq. (1960-1970) consisting of straight lines, right angles and great planes just as the building in La Defense (Moscow, Russia)



Chapter 1. Automation of Saccades as the Basis of Visual Perception
1.1. Eyesight and Eye Movement
1.2. Saccadic Automation Concept
1.3. Functionality of Saccadic Automation
1.4. Nystagmus. What Does It Mean?

Chapter 2 Visual Environment as an Ecological Factor
2.1. Effect of Visible Objects on Saccadic Automation
2.2. Saccades when Observing Complicated Objects
2.3. Visual Environment of People Having Bad Vision
2.4. Miner's Visual Environment
2.5. "Sensory Hunger"
2.6. Test Data

Chapter 3. Homogeneous Visual Environment
3.1. Homogeneous Visual Environment under Urban Conditions
3.2. Small Architectural Forms
3.3. Homogeneous Visual Fields in Interiors of Living Quarters and Industrial Premises
3.4. New-bom Children "Do Not Like" to Look at Homogeneous Visual Fields
3.5. Open Urban Space - Analogue of Homogeneous Environment
3.6. Homogenization of Natural Environment
3.7. Vision in Homogeneous Fields

Chapter 4. Aggressive Visual Environment
4.1. Psycho-Physiological Characteristic of Aggressive Visual Fields
4.2. Aggressive Visual Environment under Urban Conditions
4.3. Vision in Aggressive Field
4.4. Criterion When Forming Visual Environment

Chapter 5. Videoecology - Problem of Human Being's Ecology
5.1. Modern Human being's Visual Environment
5.2. Social Consequences of Unnatural Urban Visual Environment

Chapter 6. Comfortable Visual Environment
6.1.What Comfortable Visual Environment is?
6.2.Formation of Comfort Visual Environment
6.3.Ways to Solve Problems of Videoecology




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Videoecology Videoecology is the science of interaction between a human being and visual environment
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Doctor of biology, academician of International Academy of sciences Vasiliy A. Filin is the founder of the videoecology as a science .
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Visual environment is all we perceive by organ of vision, in other words it is all we look at by our eyes
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