Rogers B J, 2002, "Charles Wheatstone and the cardboard cut-out phenomenon" Perception 31 ECVP Abstract Supplement
Charles Wheatstone and the cardboard cut-out phenomenon
B J Rogers
The 1830s saw not only Wheatstone's demonstration of the stereoscope but also the development of photography by Fox Talbot, Daguerre, and others. Commercially produced stereo photographs were already available by the early 1850s. Observers of stereo photographs have frequently noted that the 3-D impression of the depicted figures and objects is often incorrect--consisting of a number of separated depth planes rather than the correct volumetric structures. Why should this be? Howard and Rogers [1995 Binocular Vision and Stereopsis (New York: Oxford University Press)] speculated that this 'cardboard cut-out' phenomenon was due to the fact that the distances signalled by convergence and accommodation are typically much smaller than those of the original scene. To test this speculation, I have systematically manipulated the (i) convergence distance, (ii) accommodation distance, (iii) differential perspective information (vertical disparities), and (iv) angular size of the stereo images (compared with the original scene), and measured the effect of these manipulations on the perceived layout and 3-D shape of stereo images using both matching and nulling techniques. Overall, the results suggest that the cardboard cut-out phenomenon is a product of cue conflicts and that spatial layout and the volumetric properties of objects are seen correctly when these conflicts are minimised.
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