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Proceedings Paper

Efficient visual system processing of spatial and luminance statistics in representational and non-representational art
Author(s): Daniel J. Graham; Jay D. Friedenberg; Daniel N. Rockmore
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Paper Abstract

An emerging body of research suggests that artists consistently seek modes of representation that are efficiently processed by the human visual system, and that these shared properties could leave statistical signatures. In earlier work, we showed evidence that perceived similarity of representational art could be predicted using intensity statistics to which the early visual system is attuned, though semantic content was also found to be an important factor. Here we report two studies that examine the visual perception of similarity. We test a collection of non-representational art, which we argue possesses useful statistical and semantic properties, in terms of the relationship between image statistics and basic perceptual responses. We find two simple statistics-both expressed as single values-that predict nearly a third of the overall variance in similarity judgments of abstract art. An efficient visual system could make a quick and reasonable guess as to the relationship of a given image to others (i.e., its context) by extracting these basic statistics early in the visual stream, and this may hold for natural scenes as well as art. But a major component of many types of art is representational content. In a second study, we present findings related to efficient representation of natural scene luminances in landscapes by a well-known painter. We show empirically that elements of contemporary approaches to high-dynamic range tone-mapping-which are themselves deeply rooted in an understanding of early visual system coding-are present in the way Vincent Van Gogh transforms scene luminances into painting luminances. We argue that global tone mapping functions are a useful descriptor of an artist's perceptual goals with respect to global illumination and we present evidence that mapping the scene to a painting with different implied lighting properties produces a less efficient mapping. Together, these studies suggest that statistical regularities in art can shed light on visual processing.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 February 2009
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 7240, Human Vision and Electronic Imaging XIV, 72401N (10 February 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.817185
Show Author Affiliations
Daniel J. Graham, Dartmouth College (United States)
Jay D. Friedenberg, Manhattan College (United States)
Daniel N. Rockmore, Dartmouth College (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7240:
Human Vision and Electronic Imaging XIV
Bernice E. Rogowitz; Thrasyvoulos N. Pappas, Editor(s)

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