Pareidolia Optical Illusionistic Art


"Pareiodolic Art" is a name i'm going to call a type of art that combines Pareidolia and Optical Illusions. 

This is a type of art that has probably been around since the very first art forms.  First we should differentiate it from Pareidolia itself. Pareidolia is accidental or natural phenomena that is interpreted as being intentional. This is like seeing a cloud in the shape of a giraffe or the face of jesus burned on toast. Things that cannot be intentional but are accidental. 

File:Indian Face Colorado.jpg
Faces on rocks in particular could inspire people to augment/carve the face even more and turn it from something random to intentional.

Pareidolia (/pærɨˈdliə/ parr-i-doh-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant, a form of apophenia. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.The word comes from the Greek words para (παρά, "beside, alongside, instead") in this context meaning something faulty, wrong, instead of; and the noun eidōlon (εἴδωλον "image, form, shape") the diminutive of eidos. Pareidolia is a type ofapophenia, seeing patterns in random data.

Our brains come hardwired and have been conditioned from birth on - to recognize patterns and objects. Faces are the very first thing we notice, especially circles in circles of the eye and even the areola of the nipple. 



Our eyes, our nostrils, and our mouths are essentially round shapes that change shapes and those shapes have different meanings. That is why it is easy for us to assign meaning to these common shapes when they are noticed in nature. That is the basis for pattern recognition for both coincidental and intentional types. 


Pareidolic art uses this pattern recognition but purposely tweaks it in such a way that the observer sees more than one image in a single image.


The vace or face is probably the most classic example along with the rabbit or duck. If an artist is purposly trying to display two different things as one it is not pareidolia. It is not "seeing things that aren't there" it is seeing things that are there but have been purposely obscured. 

Another side effect from our vision system is that it has difficulty seeing two things as one. It can see one and then the other - but it switches back and forth between them instead of seeing them both at the same time. This causes perceptional confusion because in nature things are usually not two things at once. Our brains try to decide on what something is quickly and correctly - playing visual games and art are not the priorities. 


So now that we can differentiate accidental pareidolia and intentional illusions lets see what kinds of art forms can use this phenomena.

Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder: Allegory of Iconoclasts, (c. 1567)

Above you can see how an artist created a face that's made up of many other smaller figures. It's interesting because if you saw only a part of this image or saw it up close you wouldn't be able to recognize the face. This means that it can be dependent upon your perspective as much as your perception. 


"People often see hidden faces in things. Depending on the circumstances, this is referred to as pareidolia, the perception or recognition of a specific pattern or form in something essentially different. It is thus also a kind of optical illusion. When an artist notices that two different things have a similar appearance, and draws or paints a picture making this similarity evident he makes images with double meanings. Many of these images are hidden faces or hidden skulls.
These illusionistic pictures present the viewer with a mental choice of two interpretations: head or landscape, head or objects, head or architecture, etc. Both of them are valid, but the viewer sees only one of them and very often he cannot see both interpretations simultaneously."



Hybrid Image - which changes depending on viewing distance. 


Above is a more modern example using Einstein and Marilyn Monroe. 




Giuseppe was born right after Leonardo died. (1519 vs 1526) and used this type of art. 

Giuseppe Arcimboldo (Italian: [dʒuˈzɛppe artʃimˈbɔldo]; also spelled Arcimboldi) (1526 or 1527 – July 11, 1593) was an Italian painter best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of such objects as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books – that is, he painted representations of these objects on the canvas arranged in such a way that the whole collection of objects formed a recognizable likeness of the portrait subject.


Leonardo used this type of artistic technique as well and it was noticing it that was one of the reasons that started me out on writing a book about him. I started to see things in his art that I had never heard or or read about before. At first I thought I was just seeing things but after a LOT of research I began to realize that he really did use this technique. It's a long story (which is why it became a book) but I ended up discovering multiple artistic techniques that he implemented in his art. Since I had never heard of these being used by Leonardo I decided to look to his notebook to verify that he really used them. I verified that he did know about it. 




A Way to increase and bring out the genius in some of the inventions:


“I will not forget to insert into these rules, a new theoretical invention for knowledge’s sake, which, ,although it seems of little import and good for a laugh, is nonetheless, of great utility in bringing out the creativity in some of these inventions. This is the case if you cast your glance on any walls dirty with such stains or walls made up of rock formations of different types. If you have to invent some scenes, you will be able to discover them there in diverse forms, in diverse landscapes, adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, extensive plains, valleys, and hills. You can even see different battle scenes and movements made up of unusual figures, faces with strange expressions, and myriad things which you can transform into a complete and proper form constituting part of similar walls and rocks. These are like the sound of bells, in whose tolling, you hear names and words that your imagination conjures up." - Leo




Pareidolic art is just one type of technique that he used. I noticed many more - some of which took me years to understand and not only explain properly but demonstrate.

Now that I've finished "Discovering Da Vinci Daily" I can get back to the book that I've been 'working' on for almost 8 years! As I work on it i'll post more about what I found and more about how that happened.











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