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The seeing-in theory of depiction and the psychophysics of picture perception

Anne Tüscher
Abstract : In this paper, I will examine Richard Wollheim's seeing-in theory of picture representation, and particularly one of the most convincing arguments in its favour, in the light of the recent cognitive psychology. Whereas Wollheim's theory is based mainly on conceptual and phenomenological considerations, I would like to review the psychophysical facts more closely in order to find out whether they have any implications for his argument. I begin with an account of Wollheim's theory and of its major conceptual consequence: the claim that picture representation necessarily involves a simultaneous and conscious twofold experience of the picture's design and its content. Then I explain Wollheim's major justification for "twofoldness": the existence of a perceptual constancy phenomenon in picture perception, i.e., the fact that observers do not seem to be bothered by distortions when viewing a picture from another vantage point than the centre of projection. Afterwards, I move to the main and most discussed psychophysical explanation for the perceptual constancy phenomenon: the compensation hypothesis. On such an explanation, we are somehow correcting the optical distortions by means of a perceptive mechanism enabling us to reconstruct the pictured spatial layout as if the latter was seen from the correct viewpoint. This mechanism seems to be dependent on an awareness of presence of the picture's surface. Lately, this hypothesis has been challenged by new experiments. I will expose the major amendments leading to a new theory: the modified theory of compensation in picture perception, first put forward by Yang & Kubovy in 1999. Finally, I examine various consequences of this new version for Wollheim's twofoldness thesis and conclude that the latter survives the challenge of the new findings.

A. TÜSCHER, Laboratoire de Physiologie de la Perception et de l'Action - Collège de France & Institut Jean Nicod, Paris.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, June 26, 2002 - 3:52:51 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, May 6, 2015 - 4:37:02 PM



  • HAL Id : ijn_00000071, version 1



Anne Tüscher. The seeing-in theory of depiction and the psychophysics of picture perception. European Society for Philosophy and Psychology 2002. ⟨ijn_00000071⟩



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