Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Perception and Attention

"It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it."
- ANAIS NIN, quoted in The Wordsworth Dictionary of Quotations

This quote struck me because I believe it to be relative to the human tendency of visual selective attention. Selective attention is a person's tendency to process information of only certain parts of the environment with the exclusion of the other parts. Much research applies what we pay attention to according to our arousal levels. In this quote, it refers to art. When we look at a painting or any work of art, there are focus points. Many ordinary parts of art are overlooked unless emphasized by the artist. Aspects applied to art, such as distortion or enhancements of colors, allow us to gear away from our selective attention of ignoring these familiar and typically overlooked things, and it allows us to perceive the artwork in a different way.

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