Bistable Images Around Us

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Illusions of all kinds serve to demonstrate how a particular stimulus can trigger multiple perceptions after the stimulus has been transduced and processed in our brains. Examples include Rubin's Vase and the Necker cube. Each of these can be perceived in two different ways, and neither way is the "correct" one. I found that the way bistable images like these represent the difference between sensation and perception was highly interesting. In fact, the idea of two possible perceived realities got me thinking about the world around us and how unintentional bistable imagery might influence the reality that we experience every day. Surely my thoughts are taking this fundamental psychological concept and applying it to the abstract, but since the Gestalt principles are so applicable to our daily lives, doesn't the existence of bistable imagery stand to reason?

The more I think about whether bistable imagery might be present in our daily lives, the more I see that actually discovering it might be a daunting task. I expect that most of us are so heavily adapted to our perceptions of mundane objects that trying to see them in any other light might be futile. A book is a book; a pillow is a pillow. I'm not sure that I or anyone else will be able to break away from what we "know" is there to see something else, but I will try and demonstrate the idea here. I've photographed two different arrangements with the intent of producing a bistable image.

face cropped.jpg

Is it a shadow from the stack of books, or a face (perhaps with a hat)?

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Is it a shelf attached to the wall, or a wireless keyboard receiver?

Let me know if any of you are able to spot the intended bistable imagery. Is it possible that alternate perceptions of the same stimulus can influence the way we see our world in any meaningful way?

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I can definitely see the hat man in the first picture....but for the life of me I don't see the shelf on the wall. Curious to see if anyone else can see the second one.

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This page contains a single entry by Kyle P. published on February 16, 2012 7:34 PM.

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