2004 volume 33(5) pages 513 – 530

Cite as:
Koenderink J J, van Doorn A J, Kappers A M L, Todd J T, 2004, "Pointing out of the picture" Perception 33(5) 513 – 530

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Pointing out of the picture

Jan J Koenderink, Andrea J van Doorn, Astrid M L Kappers, James T Todd

Received 9 September 2002, in revised form 24 November 2003

Abstract. The eyes of portrayed people are often noticed to 'follow you' when you move with respect to a flat painting or photograph. We investigated this well-known effect through extensive measurements of pictorial relief and apparent orientation of the picture surface for a number of viewing conditions, including frontal and oblique views. We conclude that cases of both oblique and frontal viewing are very similar in that perception simply follows what is indicated by the proximal stimulus, even though this may imply that the (perceived) physical and pictorial spaces segregate. The effect of foreshortening then causes an apparent narrowing of pictorial objects. We find no evidence for any 'correction' mechanisms that might be specifically active in oblique viewing conditions.

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