News & Views

Monday 27th March 2017

Natavistic Perception

When you look at a photograph, there is a point when you come to a conclusion and say to the person beside you “I like that”; “That makes me feel uneasy”; “What a great photograph!”; “I’d like to see what that bird was looking at”; or even “Let’s buy it – that would look great above the fire-place”. These thoughts, opinions and judgments are the culmination of a whole host of processes on various levels, all of which can occur in a remarkably short period of time.

Studies are certainly revealing that a lot more goes on in those initial split seconds when our eyes fall upon an image than we might have imagined. It seems that we are programmed to jump to a lot of conclusions in our quest to ‘read’ what is in our visual field to glean information and meaning. We like to think that our reactions are carefully considered and very personal, but it seems that a lot of what leads us to them are relatively automated and that we share a lot of these responses with the majority of our species.

As Robert Solso says: "This first stage of the perception of art is largely independent of conscious control, and we are, in effect, enslaved by photons and physiology. Here, we "see" essentially the same thing. The shapes, colors, patterns, and organization of forms are sensed and processed by your eye and brain in the same way as they are processed by everyone else's. It is simply a matter of nativistic perception...."