Art And Mind Essay Research Paper The

Art And Mind Essay, Research Paper The human mind is a very powerful tool and organ. There are however imperfections in the way it processes things. Illusions for

Art And Mind Essay, Research Paper

The human mind is a very powerful

tool and organ. There are however

imperfections in the way it

processes things. Illusions for

example, are visual stimuli that

trick the brain because the brain

cannot process all visual images

correctly. Why do we see puddles

forming up the road while we are

driving in our cars on a hot summer

day? Why do some parts of a drawing

look bigger when in fact they are

smaller? There have been many

artists that have used illusions in

their paintings, M.C. Escher, Scott

Kim, and Salvador Dali. Each artist

employed a different illusionary

style. In Dali?s works of art, he

often uses perceptual ambiguity and

we often see hidden faces of

himself or others that are painted

into his paintings. To see these

images, we must step away and look

at certain objects from a different


We must first comprehend why

illusions happen to begin exploring

perceptual ambiguity. To answer the

first question proposed above, we

must understand that heat makes

light waves bend. So, the light

streaming in from the sky doesn’t

travel in a straight line to your

eye from up above, it comes to your

eye from a different direction, in

fact it looks like its coming from

the pavement. So your brain doesn’t

quite know how to interpret it, it

sees a patch of sky right in the

middle of the road, and ends up

thinking that its a puddle of

water. This is also what happens in

deserts, when the heat distorts

light from the sky to make look

like there’s a lake in the middle

of the sand. So why do we see

illusions in works of art? Well, we

know that the brain processes

whatever it is fed. For example, if

something is small, your brain

thinks it’s far away. If something

is your brain thinks it’s up close.

There are other assumptions that

your brain makes too, all based on

the fact that it remembers what

it’s seen before, and assumes that

what it sees now will be similar.

Of course, all things small are not

far away and all things big are not

close, so sometimes your brain

makes an assumption and it?s wrong.

Perceptual ambiguity or double

imagery has been around

for a long time. One of the

earliest examples of this

phenomenon is a picture of an old

woman and a younger one where one

can see one or the other depending

on what features one focus?s on

first. One?s view of this image

remains static until the viewer

starts to pay attention to

different regions and contours.

Researchers have found that certain

regions will favor one perception

from the other. Once a certain

feature is identified as one part

of the face, the viewer can follow

the lines that develop from that

feature and fill in the rest of the

picture, creating another different

stable view. The human visual

system tends to group like or

related regions together, so we

cannot see the two mixed views at

one time. Researchers have also

found that we do not need to shift

our gaze for the image to reverse.

The reversal may happen, but it

usually happens at a slower rate.

One test was done where the image

was stabilized onto the retina, so

any eye movements would have no

effect perception wise during the

subject?s viewing. This indicated

that higher cortical processing was

occurring during the viewing of the

image, which in turn indicated that

viewing anything is an active

process. The human brain needs to

process information in order to

make sense out of it.

Salvador Dali was a Surrealist that

also used perspective ambiguity in

his works. Dali was a Spaniard,

born in 1904 in Figueres, Spain. As

he was growing up he attended the

San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts

in Madrid, and three years after

his first one-man show in 1925,

became internationally renowned. He

was a big part of the Surrealist

movement until war broke out and

his apolitical attitude clashed

with the Surrealists?. He was

pushed out of the Surrealist

movement after a trial, but many

still associated him with

Surrealism, and showed his

paintings at Surrealist

exhibitions. After a couple of

years, he moved onto a new style,

where he was preoccupied with

religion and science. Dali died

from heart failure and respiratory

complications in 1989.

In 1962, Dali painted a painting

titled "Vision of Hell," which

combined his Surrealistic style

with his classical style. In this

painting, the viewer can see three

images of a face or person, which

some say looks like Dali himself.

The first image can be seen in the

upper center part of the painting,

next to the divine figure of either

Mary or Christ. The second can be

seen in the lower left center part

of the painting, forming from a

puff of smoke. The last and most

dominant face in the painting can

be seen by focusing on the black

drops just a little left of center.

They can be viewed as tears falling

from an eye, the black streak above

the eye is the eyebrow of the right

eye, and the nose is formed by the

lower part of the torso under the

bosom, with the pitchfork making up

one nostril. It looks like the

figure is frowning or just very

upset, the other pitchforks

underneath seem to be making up the

mouth. In another work by Dali,

"The Slave Market with Disappearing

Bust of Voltaire," one can make out

the face of Voltaire, but if the

viewer looks closer, the eyes could

be substituted for heads, and the

shadows under the cheek could be

substituted for clothing nuns would


We can see from the Dali example,

and also from the old woman/young

woman example that the brain is

imperfect in catching everything.

The way we perceive artwork makes

big differences. If our brain were

perfect, we would be able to catch

all hidden images, and even see

both images at the same time, but

because we have imperfect brains,

we cannot see the other image

unless our perception changes.