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picture perception


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The processes involved in making sense of visual images. Although some basic perceptual processes may be innate and universal (seegestalt laws), pictorial perception draws on the viewer's knowledge of the world (seesocial knowledge) and of the medium and the conventions employed (seetextual knowledge). However ‘realistic’ a picture is, it requires active interpretation (seebeholder's share). Although viewers may often broadly agree about what figurative art depicts or denotes, there is more diversity beyond this ‘literal’ level. Knowledge of the world is socially variable; the familiarity of the conventions is culturally variable (see alsohorizontal-vertical illusion). Individual factors are also involved: such as the viewer's frame of reference. The importance of the viewer's current purposes has been demonstrated by Yarbus in his use of eye tracking. In exploring how picture perception works, psychological approaches often apply schema theory; pictorial semiotics focuses on the use of social codes and textual codes. The perception of pictorial depth differs from spatial perception in the everyday three-dimensional world in its reliance on monocular cues.

Subjects: Media Studies — Linguistics.


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