Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Can artistic methods be used to improve the perception of depth in pictures?: an investigation into two methods

posted on 2022-10-24, 14:48 authored by Joseph Baldwin


This PhD research investigates two artistic imaging methods based on modeling human visual experience, Vision-Space and Fovography, in order to ascertain whether they are better able to represent pictorial depth than conventional imaging methods, based on geometrical perspective.

The way we subjectively perceive visual space and depth is still not fully understood and there is still debate about what is the best way to represent the three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional plane. Photographs and computer-generated pictures generally use some form of linear perspective, which has also been employed to some extent historically by artists to produce images that approximate scenes in the visual world (Kubovy, 1987). Many scientists have argued linear perspective is the optimum and accurate way to record visual space (Pirenne, 1970). However, it has also been observed there are limitations to these imaging methods in that the experience of visual space does not correspond faithfully to structure of images produced with conventional linear perspective methods (Kemp, 1990). Cameras, for example, do not discriminate between the central and peripheral areas of the visual field as human eyes do, and cameras can generally only capture a relatively narrow portion of the visual field (Kingslake, 1992).

The Vision-Space and Fovography imaging methods are derived from painterly insights about human vision, while also drawing on insights gained by recent vision scientists about the structure of visual awareness. For the Vision-Space imaging method, this involves applying the spatial radial arrangement of disorder based on Koenderink's (2001) two-dimensional log-polar transform of how visual information could appear across the visual field in order to enhance depth perception. Conventional imaging system pictures, by contrast, often rely on depth of field blur to mimic human visual depth (Mather and Smith, 2002; Mauderer et al., 2014). Meanwhile, the Fovography imaging method represents the full scope of the binocular human visual field within a given picture area, using a method derived from analysis of art historical works and the phenomenal structure of the visual field (Pepperell and Haertel, 2014).

Through investigating both artistic approaches using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods, this research found that both Vision-Space and Fovography pictures offered significant improvements in perceived depth. Moreover, in some cases they also improved the feeling of being 'factored into' (present in) the picture, and directing the viewer's attention to a given area more reliably than conventional imaging methods.



  • School of Art and Design

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD

Publication year


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