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.Order now
In Dalis works of art, he often uses perceptual ambiguity and e 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 perspective. 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 ees 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 its 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 focuss on first.
Ones 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 f 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 subjects viewing. This indicated that higher cortical processing was ccurring 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 ushed 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, ext 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 wear.
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.