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Florian Perdreau, Patrick Cavanagh; The Artist’s visual span: better performance through smaller windows.. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1068. doi: 10.1167/12.9.1068.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Visual artists typically have years of intensive training in observing and reproducing visual scenes. Clearly, they develop advanced motor skills, but does their training also affect their visual perception? In previous studies, two perceptual factors have been examined that may be acquired with extensive practice and that may contribute to the better accuracy of artists’ drawings compared to those of non-artists: 1. access to the proximal (retinal) image unaltered by the size, color, and lightness constancies that must be undone to reproduce a scene and 2. more extensive integration of scene elements (larger visual chunks). In a previous study, we found that artists’ skill in reproduction was not related to more veridical perception: artists were as affected by visual constancies as non-artists (Perdreau & Cavanagh, 2011). Here we test whether artists may have an advantage in encoding complex scenes — just as expert chess players show advantages in encoding complex arrangements of chess pieces. If this is the case, artists (specifically those with skills in figurative arts) may be able to extract and integrate more information at each fixation of a scene. We used a gaze-contingent moving window to control the amount of information available surrounding the fovea (with the periphery blanked out). Line drawings of possible and impossible objects (like the Penrose triangle) were displayed and the subjects were asked to scan the objects and report, as quickly as possible, whether the object was structurally possible or not. Our results found a negative correlation between drawing skill and smallest window size at which the task could be performed, suggesting that artists can integrate complex scene structures from smaller image samples than the less skilled.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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