Chen I, 2003, "Perceptual constancy and the representational art" Perception 32 ECVP Abstract Supplement
Perceptual constancy and the representational art
Our visual experience is not the same as the optical projection on the retina. We perceive the outside world as an invariant static entity full of enumerable objects through internal processes collectively called perceptual constancy. Perceptual constancy plays an extremely important role for the survival of an organism. However, I would like to make the argument that, when it comes to pictorial representation, perceptual constancy poses many kinds of challenging problems for artists of all times around the world, and shapes the outcome of art creations. One of the main effects exerted by perceptual constancy on pictorial arts is the difficulty for the artist to master the principles of linear perspective. Given its power to render a realistic three-dimensional scene on a two-dimensional plane, it is odd that the use of linear perspective has never been spontaneous or even popular outside the Western tradition. Part of the reasons for this curious fact could be attributed to that perceptual constancy, being a cognitive impenetrable nature of our perception, works directly against the use of linear perspective in pictorial representations. The rules of linear perspective are a set of tricks to reconstruct an accidental projection on the canvas. The work of perceptual constancy, on the other hand, is to erase singularities associated with each object in a given view. I provide examples of children's drawings and non-Western paintings to illustrate the shaping force of perceptual constancy on artistic styles.
[Supported by NSC91-2413-H-009-006.]
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