Painters observe differently

Who I am
Louise Hay

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How many times have we wondered what it would be like to be able to observe the world through the eyes of artists? Now it is possible to know how they perceive the visual world thanks to a Norwegian research in which the free eye movements of 9 painters and 9 people who have never approached the world of art were traced, while observing 16 images that represented everyday scenes or abstract. Before starting I encourage you to determine in the figure that begins the article which corresponds to the movements of the artists' eyes and which to other people. Now let's go into the curious but simple experiment, first of all we must clarify that the participants were offered a false target: they were told that the idea was to study the pupil while looking at the images. However the real goal was to determine if there were differences in the observation patterns by evaluating parameters such as: frequency, duration of the gaze between the two groups and if this difference had any influence on the ability to remember the details of the images. In a first session of the experiment the participants simply observed the images, in a second session they were asked to concentrate so that they could remember them in the future. The results showed that in the first session the artists did not spend significant time observing the small details, they even spent less time than other people but in the second session, when they had to memorize the images, the time devoted to the details increased significantly, as if used a different strategy with these key elements to thus enhance the memory. The authors of the experiment affirm that artists possess this pattern or form of observing since they have learned to identify the real details of an image and not just those most evident to normal perception. Thus, learning to observe is a skill learned with the practice of painting and not a cognitive predisposition which is supported by the fact that budding painters usually draw with outlines disproportionate to the details that are most important to them, such as eyes for example. In other words, the artist gradually loses the propensity to exaggerate in his reproductions everything that the brain recognizes as most important. In the same measure in which it perceives the world closer to its complexity, it is able to reproduce it with greater fidelity in relation to the original model. For those who are unsure however, the artists' eye movements are represented by the right image.

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