The Gestalt principles of perception are fascinating to me. I think it’s because I’m fascinated by psychological perceptions and how our culture influences them. Though I don’t have much of a background in psychology, I did take the “advanced placement” crash course in high school. In it I learned about nature vs. nurture—essentially the effect each has on cognitive functions and the way we interact in the world. I never really thought about psychology relating to art until I read the Universal Principles of Design and how it relates to the Gestalt principles of perception.
As I was thinking about both the principle of closure and the Law of Pragnanz while reading the article, I immediately thought about how “nurtured” we are to view objects in these two ways. One line in the article regarding closure really made me think—it said, “if the energy required to find or form a pattern is greater than the energy required to perceive the elements individually, closure will not occur.” Then, the Law of Pragnanz states that a person will “interpret ambiguous images as simply and complete, versus complex and incomplete.”
I found both of these suggestions of simplicity in interpretation as very interesting. As humans, we tend to look for the “deeper” meaning of things in an intellectual atmosphere, yet our brains are inherently trained to make patterns, disjointed lines, ambiguity, as simple and complete as possible. And it’s true. In a complex and ambiguous photograph, we try to make it something simpler, something we understand.
I’m not sure why that is, but I’m sure it has something to do with the way our brain compiles information. I know when trying to memorize lists, its easier to make acronyms. Again, its making something simple out of something complex.
I wonder how many artists consider these principles when creating their designs (I’m sure lots/most do..). I also wonder if how they perceive their design is how others perceive it—whether each brain interprets patterns in a similar fashion.
So, I’ve compiled some neat images that I think (key word is THINK) obey the law of closure.
Let me know why you think we tend to perceive the simple and orderly, not the complex.