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Examining art: dissociating pattern and perceptual influences on oculomotor behaviour

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

When observing art the viewer's understanding results from the interplay between the marks made on the surface by the artist and the viewer's perception and knowledge of it. Here we use a novel set of stimuli to dissociate the influences of the marks on the surface and the viewer's perceptual experience upon the manner in which the viewer inspects art. Our stimuli provide the opportunity to study situations in which (1) the same visual stimulus can give rise to two different perceptual experiences in the viewer, and (2) the visual stimuli differ but give rise to the same perceptual experience in the viewer. We find that oculomotor behaviour changes when the perceptual experience changes. Oculomotor behaviour also differs when the viewer's perceptual experience is the same but the visual stimulus is different. The methodology used and insights gained from this study offer a first step toward an experimental exploration of the relative influences of the artist's creation and viewer's perception when viewing art and also toward a better understanding of the principles of composition in portraiture.

Affiliations: 1: School of Psychology, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 4HN, UK


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