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Seeing Black and White$
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Alan Gilchrist

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195187168

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195187168.001.0001

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The Gestalt Period

The Gestalt Period

(p.47) 4 The Gestalt Period
Seeing Black and White

Alan Gilchrist

Oxford University Press

The third period of lightness theory saw the arrival of the Gestalt psychologists, with their penetrating insights and dramatic experiments. Rejecting the clumsy two-stage conception of raw sensations and cognitive interpretation, they proposed a single perceptual process that was parsimonious and elegant. The emergence of Gestalt theory is often tied to the 1912 publication of Max Wertheimer's paper on apparent motion. But the Gestaltists did not really turn their attention to lightness until the early 1930s. When they did, they turned the field upside down. In the short space of five years they published a series of devastating crucial experiments. David Katz, who represented the standard view of lightness, was in retreat on every issue on which Gestalt theory challenged him. The Gestalt period was cut short by the tragic events surrounding World War II.

Keywords:   lightness, Gestalt theory, sensations, color perception, depth perception, Kurt Koffka, relative luminance, Gelb effect

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