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GESTALT THEORY and THE RORSCHACH TEST


INTRODUCTION:

Soon after I began my series of ink drawings I started observing visual correlations to the ink test pages of the ‘Rorschach Test’ and the patterns involved in Gestalt Theory of perception.

Therefore, I decided to research a bit about the two so that I could not only gain understanding about the theories, but also start applying them into my work.


GESTALT THEORY:

  • Gestalt psychologists – the brain organises visual elements into predictable groups according to particular rules – described as principles
  • [https://cnx.org/contents/Sr8Ev5Og@8.1:cOcxAR_r@5/Gestalt-Principles-of-Perception]
  • MAX WERTHEIMER – demonstrated that individuals perceive motion in rapidly flickering static images
    • He (and his partners – Wolfgang Kohler and Kurt Koffka) believed that perception involved more than just simply combining sensory stimuli
    • Led to a new movement – GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY
      • Gestalt – form or pattern
    • Reflects the idea that the whole is different from the sum of its parts – the image, which our brain creates, is more than just a sum of available sensory inputs
      • in the ink drawings: not all marks are connected and some marks are very minimal, only indicating the characteristics of the landscape (e.g. vertical or horizontal lines that indicate the ground and its positioning in relation to the observer)
    • It does so in predictable ways
      • Created principles (out of these predictable ways) which now organise sensory info
  • GESTALT PRINCIPLES:

    • FIGURE-GROUND RELATIONSHIP:
      • We tend to segment/divide our visual world into figure and ground
        • FIGURE – the object/person in focus of the visual field
        • GROUND – the background
      • Our perception can really vary depending on what is perceived as figure and what’s perceived as ground
        • Ability to interpret sensory info can depend on what we label as figure/ground
        • within my own work there is usually a distinction between the figure and its surroundings although some lines of the environment will have similar qualities – and blending the barrier between the two – the background/foreground becomes part of the ‘figure’
    • PROXIMITY:
      • Things that are close to one another tend to be grouped together
        • E.g. How we group letters in a word – no spaces between them
        • E.g. How we perceive words – spaces between each word
    • SIMILARITY:
      • Things that are alike tend to be grouped together
        • E.g. Football game – two types of coloured uniforms – we can distinguish one team from another
    • CONTINUITY (good continuation):
      • We are more likely to perceive continuous, smooth flowing lines rather than jagged, broken lines
    • CLOSURE:
      • We organise perceptions into complete objects rather than a series of parts
  • PATTERN PERCEPTION:

    • Our ability to discriminate amongst various figures and shapes happens because of these principles
    • Our perceptions are based on PERCEPTUAL HYPOTHESES
      • Educated guesses we make while interpreting sensory information
      • Informed by a number of factors, including:
        • PERSONALITIES
        • EXPERIENCES
        • EXPECTATIONS
  • the drawings can be made more or less ambiguous
    • the more it is ambiguous the more place I leave for the viewer to fill in the gaps

THE RORSCHACH TEST

My ink drawings also started to remind me of the ink blot drawings used in the Rorschach Test – in the way that there is ambiguity in some parts which can be solved by individual observers – similarly to the test itself where people are asked to observe and conclude what they see based on the ambiguity of the shapes.

In a way the test also combines elements of the Gestalt Theory because the observers are asked to fill in any blank spots – with information they think would be most suitable.

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