Friday, April 01, 2011

Gestalt

Gestalt psychology is an important concept for artists, and it's one way that the struggle of order and chaos is part of good design.  The Gestalt effect is also built into everyone, so you can expect audiences to respond exactly the same, regardless of age, gender, or culture.

Gestalt psychology is about how we sort the complicated mass of information our eyes (and other senses) constantly feed our brain.  Look closely at the above image for a minute.  Stare at one point, or move your eyes around.  Notice how everything swims a bit, like your brain is having a hard time retaining the shape and spacing of the circles?

Now look at this image in the same way.  Any better?


How about this image?  Notice that most of the swimming is gone.

Your brain makes sense of things by forming relationships between the objects in your field of vision.  When these relationships are all equal (in the first image, even the blank spaces are similar in size to the circles), your brain has to constantly work in an attempt to organize the field.  In the third image, your brain easily categorizes the shapes by proximity, value, and size.  Clustering the circles into groups and the colors into gradients makes this sorting even easier.

Strangely, in Gestalt psychology, too much order feels chaotic and organic disorder feels more controlled! This idea can be incredibly useful in painting.  An artist with a good understanding of Gestalt effects can visually engage an audience without overstimulating them, helping them be open to the ideas his or her art is trying to express.  I'll talk about some specific Gestalt principles in later posts, so stay tuned!

15 comments:

  1. nice post! looking forward to more.

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  2. Very interesting post, so this can be apply to drawing, painting, designs... or even music, or literature. Looks like is how our brain understand things in order to store them or compare to previous thoughts, so we can increase our knowledge... so am I right?

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  3. Thanks for dropping this knowledge on us!

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  4. God bless you.

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  5. Luis: Yes, there is a Gestalt response for sound, music, and other communications. I don't think all the exact same principles apply, but probably a lot of them do.

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  6. That is very cool :), I heard about Gestalt, but I didn't think it could be applied to art- thanks for that.

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  7. Hi Sam! It makes perfect sense. I think the same applies for music too...A good variation musical notes,rhythm and instruments is the key to good music.

    Thanks for sharing, dude :)

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  8. Very interesting! I like these posts on art/science.

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  9. Fascinating post :D That was a very good read. Looking forward to reading more!

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  10. Interesting post! Very informative.

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  11. Now I Know..Thanks.

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  12. I came across your blog and well its gold, technical information as this is invaluable specially for a self taught illustrator as I am, thanks and keep it up me and many people appreciate your work in here

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