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August 13, 2010

Gestalt Theory. Design. Computer Science. Games.

Gestalt Psychology, Theory

these have been very important for visual and experiential perception for a century. They rely on a foundation of contrast or distinction between "figure" and "ground", presence and absence, sound and silence. I have taken this contrast to be meaningful or "meaning bearing" and so relate it to principals of semiotics. When these are taught from an arts heritage, they are often exercises with minimal forms, "primitives" – e.g. square, triangle, circle, only black, only white. The principles and properties are interpreted as tension, proportion, balance, depth (scalar), depth (overlapping or occlusion), depth (color in hue, lightness and saturation model), transparency (interpenetration of 2D forms), depth (variety of linear perspective strategies), movement, rhythm, pattern and texture (these last three through repitition of form). Historically these principles have been presented to eighteen year-old art students at the outset of their studies. I mentioned to Josh Fishburn that they are typically too abstractly presented for that learning cohort. It seems to take a great deal of preparation and reaffirmation to come to fully understand the Gestalt Analysis. Maybe that is why they have been presented at the beginning and reinforced throughout the processes. The educational method I outline in scheme above was taken from Gyorgy Kepes' Language of Vision. Kepes book is highly influential, and was itself informed by his work with Lazlo Moholy Nagy, who taught at the Bauhaus, and later at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Kepes taught at MIT after WWII. Kepes intersected with Nicholas Negroponte, Muriel Cooper, Seymour Papert, Marvin Minsky, and a host of others during his distinguished career at MIT.

Erica Liszewski has noted that Computer Science also has adopted some elements of Gestalt Theory. It would be interesting to see if this traces back to Kepes. Thanks go to Erica for the following summary taken from wikipedia (caveat emptor):

Emergence is the process of complex pattern formation from simpler rules.
Reification is the constructive or generative aspect of perception, by which the experienced percept contains more explicit spatial information than the sensory stimulus on which it is based.
Multistability (or multistable perception) is the tendency of ambiguous perceptual experiences to pop back and forth unstably between two or more alternative interpretations.
Invariance is the property of perception whereby simple geometrical objects are recognized independent of rotation, translation, and scale; as well as several other variations such as elastic deformations, different lighting, and different component features.
Law of Closure
The mind may experience elements it does not perceive through sensation, in order to complete a regular figure (that is, to increase regularity).
Law of Similarity
The mind groups similar elements into collective entities or totalities. This similarity might depend on relationships of form, color, size, or brightness.
Law of Proximity
Spatial or temporal proximity of elements may induce the mind to perceive a collective or totality.
Law of Symmetry (Figure ground relationships)
Symmetrical images are perceived collectively, even in spite of distance.
Law of Continuity
The mind continues visual, auditory, and kinetic patterns.
Law of Common Fate
Elements with the same moving direction are perceived as a collective or unit.
Productive thinking
is solving a problem with insight.
Reproductive thinking
is solving a problem with previous experiences and what is already known.
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_psychology

Kepes. Language of Vision. 1944 (original). On Google Books.

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at August 13, 2010 12:00 PM