This week we explored Illusion and Imagination. Once again I found the lecture very interesting and thought provoking. We explored how our imagination plays a role in what we perceive, experience and make.

Comic books are a example of where imagination plays a very strong role in how we experience the story. Comic strips are just a collection of lines and are very ambiguous, so ones persons experience of a comic story will be very different to another’s due to the fact that their imagination is playing a big part in how they see it. In the imgae below the chopping of the food and the ticking of the clock will be heard differently in peoples head. I find this really weird to think that we are actually all perceiving the world in different ways and its strange to thing how greatly one experience might differ from another.


The eye itself is actually a inefficient organ. It has quite a few blind spots. due to blood vessels in the eyes called Scotoma. The movement of the eyes also cause gaps. This means that the world we perceive with our eye isn’t actually what is out there. We fill in the gaps using our imagination, it is impossible to step outside of who we are as human being and see how the world actually is, we will always project things on top our perception of the world. I found this quite scary to think that what we are seeing might actually not all be real or what we think it is. It gets you thinking about all the things that we could be missing or mistaking.

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As we discovered with our eyes being inefficient organs, we dont need all information there to be able to perceive. We tend to see what we expect to see, rather than what the world actually is. How you experience the world is dependent on our whole life experienced and context. What we expect to see based upon how we imagine it from past experience is what we see. “Human Apprehension of the present world is always indirect; it is partially constructed by the history of our experience and prior knowledge” (Gregory, 1970). So if one was to see a picture of ice, you would be able to imagine what it would feel like, you also recognise it as ice because you have experienced it before. This works for words as well. If you are used to reading and seeing specific words spelled a certain way, when they are actually spelled wrong your imagination fills it in and you will still see it as the word you expect to see ( to an certain extent of course). I find this process amazing and with the two images below you can see your imagination at work right before your eyes, once again making one question reality.

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What we imagine can be very real. It can actually shape and change what we actually do and experience, for instance if I hear something in the kitchen when I’m home alone at night I would probably assume it is a robber. An example of imagination shaping experience is Durer’s rhino. His experiences of a Rhino were from what he had heard and what was thought about it at the time. The fact that the drawings of Rhino differ over time is not because they changed but because the times changed. The drawings represented how Rhinos were experienced at the time. This brought light to the fact that its all very well drawing but there will be change when a person see its because of how they perceive it and how they use their imagination. The question is can one control this?


We have been trained to understand the world in such a way that we don’t realize that it is ambiguous. The fact is that all images are not complete until a individual interprets it. Even what may appear as a simple outline drawing is ambiguous because you don’t know whats inside.


Its also interesting to note that whats around the image can be as important as image itself. If you take the image below, all it is is some ink on a page, it isn’t a business man, but we have had past experience of what a business man loos like so we accept that it is a image of a business man.


Another image showing the ambiguity of images is Joseph Jastrow “Duck-Rabbit”. Depending on how the viewer interprets the images and what they expect to see in the image the image can be of a duck or a rabbit. Its really interesting to see this battle of interpretation going on right before you eyes, with the brain making decisions based on past experiences of what rabbits and ducks look like and then interpreting the image to see which one best matches your past experiences.


So some of the conditions of ambiguity revealing the complexity of made objects are-

  • Absent features and context to describe the scene
  • Economy of line and brushwork
  • The presentations of one form by (or through) another
  • The use “white screen” for projection of experience
  • The use of “unnoticed” forms to represent other forms.

To conclude if we talking about experiencing the world the artist (a), work (b) and viewer (c) are constantly interacting, with the piece of work in the middle, joining the artist and viewer together. If everything is being reconstructed through our experiences then nothing is really stable.


During the session we also carried out an experiment whereby one person would take a look at a drawing and then 10 minuets later would be asked to draw what they had seen and then this would be repeated for another person until the end of the session where we viewed the originally images and how they changed through to the final images. You can see how they differ in the images below. I thought it was amazing how much it had acually changed and demonstrated perfectly how much our imagination plays a role in what we perceive and experience and how we interpret it.

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We were then asked to look at the images below and think about how they are ambiguous so you can describe how your experience is necessary to make the image work.


The image above is ambiguous because one can either see buildings towering into the sky with rocks falling down or they can see the batman logo in the negative space in between the building against the sky as well as the rocks and the atmosphere of the shot. For this image to work one would need previous experience of what the Batman logo would look like and to know that it is a film so everything fits together; why is says “in theaters and Imax summer 2012.”





This image demonstrates ambiguity because one could see various different landscapes depicting different scenes behind writing advertising Star Wars films or you could also see the shapes that make up the landscapes and realised that they are Star Wars characters and the scenes inside them are from the films. However, one would need to have experienced the Star War films to understand this and know what the characters are that are being shown.


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