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The Oxford Compendium of Visual Illusions$
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Arthur G. Shapiro and Dejan Todorovic

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199794607

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199794607.001.0001

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Symmetry and Uprightness in Visually Perceived Forms

Symmetry and Uprightness in Visually Perceived Forms

Chapter:
(p.234) Chapter 23 Symmetry and Uprightness in Visually Perceived Forms
Source:
The Oxford Compendium of Visual Illusions
Author(s):

Lydia M. Maniatis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199794607.003.0023

Why do some two-dimensional (2D) drawings look three-dimensional (3D)? The answer is because their projection on our retinas is consistent with a 3D percept that has a “better” shape and orientation than the 2D figure. Whenever a retinal projection is interpreted by the visual system as the projection of a surface that is not frontoparallel (i.e., not parallel to the retinal surface), then the retinal image will differ in shape from the source of the projection in (a) the sizes of its internal angles and/or (b) the relative extents of its surfaces. The latter differences arise because, when an extent is assumed to be receding, then it must also be assumed to have undergone foreshortening in the projection. Using pictures, we can show that the visual system likes more, rather than less, mirror symmetry and a vertical axis of symmetry more than a tilted one.

Keywords:   2D, 3D, orientation, retinal projection, shape, symmetry, precept

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