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Sep 15, 2012

The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend

French philosopher Henri Bergson has a famous quote: "The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend."

Bergson probably meant it metaphorically, but it seems to be literally true according to research by psychologist Martin Rolfs and colleagues. Rolfs studies the role of rapid eye movements in visual perception.

"The visual scene is full of so much information, we cannot analyze everything at the same time...Our results show that shifts of visual attention precede rapid eye movements, improving accuracy in identifying objects in the visual field and speeding our future actions to those objects...And that's actually how you can tell imagery from a real visual experience, because if you move your eyes, things change on the retina. If you move your eyes while you're imagining, while you're hallucinating, nothing changes. So if you want to know if you're dreaming or not, you should just move your eyes or your body." explains Martin Rolfs in this short video.

4 comments:

George Walker said...

Dear Mr. Boukobza

I too am interested in how the brain processes the visual world. In particular the black and white image. I write wordless narratives using woodengravings similar to the work of Frans Masereel.Here is a list of some of my books:

Walker, George A., Book of Hours: A Wordless Novel Told in 99 Wood Engravings, Second (Porcupine’s Quill, 2010)

Walker, George A., The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson, First (Porcupine’s Quill, 2012)

Walker, George A, The Life and Times of Conrad Black: a Wordless Biography, 2013

It's true "The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend" We read images for meaning but each of us sees only what we are prepared to understand through our own bias and experiences. A picture of a face can stir both adoration or hate depending on who the viewer thinks the face is. If I tell you it is the face of an evil man you start to look for evidence of this characteristic even if there isn't rational evidence to support such a hypothesis.

Thank you for your work on Visual Mapping.

George A. Walker AOCA, BEd, MA, RCA
Associate Professor —Faculty of Art
Ontario College of Art & Design University
100 McCaul Street, Toronto.
Canada
M5T 1W1


gwalker@faculty.ocadu.ca

George Walker said...

Dear Mr. Boukobza

I too am interested in how the brain processes the visual world. In particular the black and white image. I write wordless narratives using woodengravings similar to the work of Frans Masereel.Here is a list of some of my books:

Walker, George A., Book of Hours: A Wordless Novel Told in 99 Wood Engravings, Second (Porcupine’s Quill, 2010)

Walker, George A., The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson, First (Porcupine’s Quill, 2012)

Walker, George A, The Life and Times of Conrad Black: a Wordless Biography, 2013

It's true "The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend" We read images for meaning but each of us sees only what we are prepared to understand through our own bias and experiences. A picture of a face can stir both adoration or hate depending on who the viewer thinks the face is. If I tell you it is the face of an evil man you start to look for evidence of this characteristic even if there isn't rational evidence to support such a hypothesis.

Thank you for your work on Visual Mapping.

George A. Walker AOCA, BEd, MA, RCA
Associate Professor —Faculty of Art
Ontario College of Art & Design University
100 McCaul Street, Toronto.
Canada
M5T 1W1


gwalker@faculty.ocadu.ca

Philippe Boukobza said...

Dear Mr Walker,
Thank you very much for your comment and for giving us the sources of your visual books. I came accross this very interesting video about one of your books: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yH4MQlsUyg




Dr. Scott Simmerman said...

I found this page searching for the original quote because I also use visuals to engage thinking. What I have played with for 30 years is a concept called Square Wheels.

For the past 20 years, I have used line art to depict how things really work in organizations and as a tool to help people find and define considered alternatives to the way things work. (The Round Wheels are in the wagon!)

So, we try to get people to look at things differently so that they can generate ideas for organizational improvement.

Recently, we have gone from line art to using LEGO representations. The image asks people to think about alternatives; we present it in small groups so that we get the diversity of ideas as well as ownership of new ways to do the old things.

Good lead-in quote and thanks for sharing.