“Seeing is the perception of action”


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“Seeing is the perception of action”

When we see a dark disk placed within a white square we do not see the disk and square separately, we see a whole object. We see objects immediately as having a certain size like smaller or larger than a bread box, and we see them in a location among other objects. “No object is perceived as unique or isolated.”

We see various qualities of an object as properties of a total visual field, and these properties are not static, “there is something restless about it”. “Visual experience is dynamic.”

The tensions we perceive in a visual field “are as inherent in any percept as size, shape, location, or color. Because they have magnitude and direction, these tensions can be described as psychological “forces”.

There are more things perceived within a visual field than those that strike the retina of the eye. Such things are called perceptual inductions. Occasionally these perceptual inductions result from previous experiences. “More typically, however, they are completions deriving spontaneously during perception from the given configuration of the pattern…For any special relations between objects there is a “correct” distance, established by the eye intuitively.”

The viewer perceives an “unpleasant” effect when the objects within the field seem to be ambiguous or to pull too strenuously on one another. “In ambiguous situations the visual pattern ceases to determine what is seen, and subjective factors in the observer…come into play.”

Just as living creatures cannot be adequately described only in terms of inches of distance and size, or angles of perception, so also these static measurements are insufficient for describing the meaning and expression of life forces.

Quotes from Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye by Rudolf Arnheim