Friday, January 15, 2010


• Sensual Theories
• Perceptual Theories
Sensual Theories
• Gestalt
• Constructivism
• Ecological
• Proposed by Max Wertheimer, a German psychologist.
• Gestalt means form or shape.
• The whole is different from the sum of its part.
• The eye merely takes in all the visual stimuli and that the brain arranges the sensation into coherent images.
• Visual perception was a result of organizing sensual elements or forms into various groups.
• Four laws of grouping
– Similarity
– Proximity
– Continuation
– Common fate

Muller-Lyer Illusion

• Criticized for describing perceptions rather than explaining how perceptions give meaning.

• Julian Hochberg, psychology prof. (Columbia Uni.), 1970, found that human eyes constantly in motion as they scan an image.
• The viewer constructs the scene with short-lived eyes fixation, the mind combines into a whole picture.
• Help to explain how mind perceive difficult image
• Important for explaining diffficult object
• A minor clarification of Gestalt theory

• Mario Garcia and Pegie Stark used Eye-Trac testing machine found that content, size and placement of photos are more important than whether the image is colour or black & white.
• Emphasizes the viewer’s movement in an active state of perception.

• Founded by James J. Gibson, Prof. Of Psychology at Cornell Uni.
• The approach states that:
– The study of visual perceptions should involve subjects in the natural surrounding
– Isn’t simply a combination of images scanned by eyes fixation (constructivism), but is a product of the way light affects the appearance of the objects within a field of view.
• Ambient optical array (AOA)– visible surface structures
– Slight changes in AOA, need no conscious mental calculations – automatically process perceptions.
• Criticized for lack of explanation on the entire process of human perception.
• Human perception of visual images, is a cognitive process, involves many factors – previous experience, cultural factors, and linguistic abilities.

Perceptual Theories
• Semiotics
• Cognitive

• Study/science of signs
• Developed by two philosophers;
– Ferdinand de Saussure
– Charles Sanders Peirce
• Signs is simply anything that stands for something else.
• 3 types of signs – iconic, indexical, symbolic.
• Images are collections signs
• 3 types of signs – iconic, indexical, symbolic.
– Iconic – some form similarity between signs and object it represents.
– Indexical – complex meaning, smoke represent house on fire, physical causation.
– Symbolic – an arbitrary convention, culture, belief, etc.

• Roland Barthes, describe codes (chain of association), signs that make up picture narratives.
– Society develops complex system of codes.
• Metonymic code – a collection of signs that cause viewer to make assumptions/associations
• Analogic code – cause viewer to make mental comparison
• Displaced code – transfer meaning from one set of signs to another.
• Condensed code – several signs combined to form new, composite signs, particularly images used outside the culture.
– Semiotics emphasize the importance of symbolism in the visual perception and communication.
• Viewer does not simply witness a light-structured object, but actively arrives at a conclusion through mental operations.
• Visual perceptions are affected/determined by several mental activities (Carolyn Bloomer):
– Memory, projection, expectation, selectivity, habituation, salience, dissonance, culture and words.
• Human mind is an infinitely complex living organism that science may never fully understand.

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