> Gestalt laws, foreground – background

Our ability to see and interpret what we perceive is, among other things, the subject of perception psychology and specifically the gestalt laws. The gestalt laws structure some basic elements that influence the way we perceive our surrounding world.

In an earlier article, I show the phenomenon we, or a camera, look through reflections in glass, that I think shows a fascinating ability of our mind.
Gestalt psychology discuss our ability to perceive something meaningful in a world of chaotic phenomena.


The picture with the Dalmatian is a good illustration of our ability, sometimes inability, to discern meaningful information.

I have taken a classic picture and tried to clarify it so that it’s easier to see the young woman, or the old woman that are contained in the picture.

A classic picture with double meaning …


A young woman turns her head away, an old woman looks down …

What we see in a picture is affected by how we focus, how we turn our attention.

But our viewpoint is largely based on past experiences and interpretations.

According to information from brain researchers, our eyes takes in large amount of information but this is weighted and filtered with previous memories.
When we look at a scene, the visual center process the information, but six times more information is added than was perceived. We see with our experiences and mind.

We have complete scenarios in our memory that help us to interpret and understand. We do not need to put much energy into understanding the tree we see in the street, because we simply declare the tree as just a general tree, unless we are particularly interested in trees or something special in the tree.

Lets examine an other multistable image made by the Swiss artist Sandro Del-Prete.

A picture with several messages … © Sandro Del-Prete

It is alleged that adults mostly only see a love couple, while younger children almost only see a number of dolphins. Adults look from another horizon and experience.

According to the artist, a couple of nuns were irritated about the picture when exhibited at the Museum of Science in Boston, it was an exhibition about illusions.
But the nuns where silenced when it was pointed out to them that the interpretation of the image is strongly associated with personal experience.

Here is a variation in which the “hidden elements” in the image are highlighted.

Another popular picture from the net, in this case enhanced with a little color.

Another popular image from the web.
Depending on how one focus attention, the front of the cube can change location.
When focusing on the “back” -surface, then the front faces upwards, and focusing on the “front” -surface, the front side faces downwards.

The context in an image can lead to different interpretations. Depending on size, images may have varying meanings. The size and scale of the subject affect how we interpret the content.


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