September 2017
Volume 17, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2017
Blur as a Guide for Attention when Viewing Representational Visual Art
Author Affiliations
  • Christina Chao
    Department of Cognitive Sciences, University of California, Irvine
  • Chai-Youn Kim
    Department of Psychology, Korea University
  • Emily Grossman
    Department of Cognitive Sciences, University of California, Irvine
Journal of Vision August 2017, Vol.17, 59. doi:
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      Christina Chao, Chai-Youn Kim, Emily Grossman; Blur as a Guide for Attention when Viewing Representational Visual Art. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):59. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Background. Visual artists implement particular techniques (e.g. line arrangements, spatial layout, shadows) when creating representative 2-dimensional art piece. If and how an artist implements a particular technique can influence how viewers' attention is guided through the art piece. Here, we analyze the use of surrounding blur, which artists use to highlight or emphasize a component of the art piece (often an important figure or object). Given that blurred regions of visual scenes are less fixated than clear regions (Enns & MacDonald, 2012; DiPaola, et. at, 2013), how is the salience of highlighted objects impacted when blur is included in a visual art piece? Method. Regions of high salience were identified on each art piece through mouse clicks made by a naïve group of human subjects (N = 24). From these data we identified three commonly selected regions of interest (the primary face, a secondary face, and a salient object). A new group of subjects (N = 81) then participated in a change detection paradigm to measure the impact of blur on these three targeted salient regions, and a nonsalient control region. Blur was implemented as surrounding the object, on the object, with random placement in the image, or no blur. Results. We found a main effect of region on the ability to detect changes, but no significant effect of blur positioning. Blur did not modulate salience as measured through change blindness. An analysis of artistic ability revealed a trend towards higher salience when blur surrounded the targeted regions of interest. Conclusion. Our results suggest that implementing blur in an artistic sense alters the aesthetics of the image, but may be less effective for guiding attention. For the non-expert, blur may only be effective when everything but the region of interest is blurred.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017


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