Thursday, June 3, 2010

Perceptual Segregation

Peceptual segregation is seperation of one object from another. When we look at a figure we usually see a figure that stands out from a background. I have always found is extreemly interesting to look at images where the figure and ground were interchangeable. The most well known example of this is Rubin's reversible face/vase figure. Depending on how you percieve the picture you either see a light figure of a vase on a dark ground or two dark faces on a light background.

Gesalt pyschologists were interested in knowing what properties lead us to percieve one area of an image as a figure and the other as the ground. They concluded that the figure is seen as being in front of the ground and that the figure tends to be more memorable than the ground. Something they did not mention as a property of the figure or the ground was color.

I came across some artwork that displays interchangeable figure/ground images. The pieces of artwork I have shared with you are exactly the same except the colors have been reversed. I found these images to be very interesting. Although they are the same, you perceive them differently. You see different animals in each of these images. It amazes me that you are able to percieve two exact images differently simply by reversing the colors.


  1. I enjoyed viewing the artwork with the interchangable figure/ground images. It is cool to see that they are the same images, but that they are percived differently just by changing which areas the colors are. When the image is shown with the white background, all the images in black seem more apparent where as when the image is shown with the black background, all the images in white are more apparent. This can create two different pieces of artwork within one piece of artwork.

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