Figure–ground (perception) - Wikipedia
Design Principles: Space And The Figure-Ground Relationship The quote above is gestalt in a nutshell. Closure is the opposite of what we saw in the Prägnanz image above where three objects were simpler than one. Explore Laura Dobrota's board "figure/ground relationship" on Pinterest. 30 of the best funny art memes, artist memes, art images and art quotes that will make . Graphic Design Assignment 1 - Figure-Ground Relationships | See more ideas Foolish - Steve Jobs Mahatma Gandhi, Awesome Posters, Illustrated Quotes.
Changing the selection of foreground 'figure' and background 'ground' changes what you see. In the picture below, if the figures is white, then you see a vase. But if the figure is black then you see two heads facing one another. A number of optical illusions are based on this illusion. A complication is that any scene may contain many figures and multiple grounds.
Attention will first go to the primary figure which stands out the most larger, brighter, etc. The size of an item affects whether it is seen as figure or ground.
In many cases, the smaller item will become the figure.
In the images below, A appears as a black cross on a white background whilst B may well seem to be a white cross on a black background. Figures can become grounds when there are objects within the figures. For example if there is a building in a field, the building may well be the figure for attention.
Yet if there is a notice on the building, the notice could then become the figure, demoting the building to be the ground. When a figure is identified, if there are similar shapes nearby, these also will be seen as figures. This property is known as 'surroundness'. By forcing to the reader's attention a percept that typically serves as ground, the poem increases the emotional quality of the perception, and emphasises that there is no figure to be contemplated, reinforcing the quality of deprivation.
Thus, the poem ends with "a ground alone, as in the introduction to a musical work [ When it occurs at the end of a work, its lack of progress does not prepare for some thing to come as in the introduction to a musical work, but suggests some disintegration: The next two examples can be regarded as displaying different degrees of one kind.
Consider the following Sonnet by Sir Philip Sidney: Leave me, O love which reachest but to dust; And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things; Grow rich in that which never taketh rust, Whatever fades but fading pleasure brings. Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy might To that sweet yoke where lasting freedoms be; Which breaks the clouds and opens forth the light, That doth both shine and give us sight to see.
O take fast hold; let that light be thy guide In this small course which birth draws out to death, And think how evil becometh him to slide, Who seeketh heaven, and comes of heavenly breath. Then farewell, world; thy uttermost I see; Eternal Love, maintain thy life in me. I have elsewhere discussed the light imagery of this sonnet at considerable length Tsur, ; Now I will devote attention to the third quatrain. Let us work out the internal logic of this image, in terms of mental habits and their manipulation by literary means.
I will argue that the central device of this passage is a reversal of figure - ground relationship.
Figure Ground Relationship – A Key Composition Tool
In these Ratios "Scene" typically serves as ground to "Act" and "Agent", which are, typically, the figure. Burke proposed to analyse human motives and actions in terms of the "dramatic pentade": Act, Scene, Agency, Agent, Purpose. Using "scene" in the sense of setting, or background, and "act" in the sense of action, one could say that "the scene contains the act. In the case of Sidney's poem, the scene and the act define the nature of the agent as well as his purpose: These two destinations have opposite implications.
One presents "Life as full of meaning"; the other presents "Life as totally meaningless". There is all the difference if "this small course" leads to death or to heaven. Particular occasions of birth and death in everyday life are perceived as figures, and life only as ground, at best.
But when we speak of Human Life, Life becomes the figure, only marked at its extremes by birth and death, which thus become ground.
In Christian religious traditions Life is only a transient episode for the soul which "seeketh heaven, and comes of heavenly breath". Religious rhetoric frequently attempts to bring man to an insight into this truth by using paradoxical epigrammatic phrasings such as "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it" — Mark 8. Religious poetry may attempt to do this by a sudden shift of attention from the habitual figure to its ground, the markers of its extremes: Sidney gently manipulates attention from "this small course" to "birth" and "death", which are only meant to mark the extremes of life.
Purpose is not absent from the image let that light be thy guide In this small course which birth draws out to death, it is only translated into a different visual terminology. In my paper on the cognitive structure of light imagery in religious poetry I discussed this poem at great length. I pointed out a wide range of meaning potentials in the light image, many of which are exploited in this poem. Light gives instructions, shows the way.
Figure Ground Relationship - A Key Composition Tool - DIY Photography
Another one is derived from the fact that the Light comes from an invisible and inaccessible source in the sky. Thus, these two lines do not express life's purpose by a place that serves as the destination of the journey; but this purpose is reintroduced by another conventional metaphor: The same figure - ground reversal is brought to an absurd extreme in the following quotation from Beckett's Waiting for Godot: Astride of a grave and a difficult birth.
Down in the hole, lingeringly, the gravedigger puts on the forceps. The tramp Vladimir sharpens Sidney's inverted image to absurdity: Man passes straight from the womb to the tomb, assisted by the gravedigger's forceps. In a world in which "God is dead", there is nothing beyond, and what is in between is meaningless and negligible.
The emotional disorientation aroused by this understanding is reinforced by the grotesque image, the typical effect of the grotesque being, as pointed out by Thomson"emotional disorientation".
In our everyday perception, birth is the beginning of life; death its cessation.
What matters is life itself. Both in Sidney's and Beckett's image the two extremes, birth and death, or the womb and the grave become the figure; what is between them life! And the shorter the connection, the more meaningless life becomes. A most interesting instance of figure - ground reversal is provided by the great Hebrew poet, Nathan Alterman, in his poem "I will yet come to your threshold with extinguished lips".Figure-Ground Perception
In this poem the speaker expresses his hope that he will yet reach his beloved, in a state of exhaustion, though. The poem ends with the only thing he can still offer her: The silence in the heart between two beats — This silence Is yours. This is a variation on the age-old poetic convention "My true love has my heart and I have his", in which "heart" stands for affection, love.
It is also a metonymy for life. Love, life, affection dwell in the heart; the heart, in turn, is enclosed in the body. Heartbeats are minute, barely perceptible events; whereas the silence between the beats is even less perceptible.
We are faced with the innermost emotional experiences. Consider the Scene-Act ratio innermost-intimate. They are intimately related: The Microsoft Word Thesaurus gives, among others, the following partial synonyms for intimate: Alterman's metaphor suggests something that is most minute and insignificant, but, at the same time, involves the innermost, most precious, deepest, most intimate feelings of the heart. We are not aware that our heartbeats occur against a ground of silence; that we could not perceive beats if there were no periods of silence between them.
The figure - ground reversal of Alterman's metaphor, relegating the beats to the ground, brings this to awareness.
This generates conflicting emotional tendencies: The reversal exposes the perceiving consciousness to an absence, a thing-free quality, instead of positive focused events to which the imagination can hold on. Typically, such lack of hold inspires the perceiver with awe and uncertainty; here this is overridden by the psychological atmosphere of certainty generated by the "ultimate" connotations characterised above as "innermost, most precious, deepest, most intimate", generating both an intense emotional quality and a powerful closure.
Summary and Wider Perspectives Figure - ground relationship is an important notion of gestalt theory. Theorists of the psychology of music and the visual arts made most significant use of it.
The significance of this notion in literary theory is rather limited. The most important attempt to import this distinction to linguistics and literary theory is William Labov's. Unfortunately, some linguists and literary critics regard Labov's work as a model for technical exercises rather than a source of insights into some significant part-whole relationship. Peter Stockwell does realise the Gestalt origins of these notions; but the way he applies them to particular poems is unsatisfactory.
This paper made the point that such grammatical terms as "agent" or "instrument" or such cognitive terms as "trajector" and "landmark" are not foolproof diagnostic tools.
Rather, figure - ground relationship is an important element of the way we organise reality in our awareness, including works of art. In my dealing with poetry I have focussed attention on figure - ground relationships in extralinguistic reality; only in the A Midsummer Night's Dream quotation I referred to the interaction between prosodic and syntactic structures, as I had done in my earlier work too.
I argued that poets may rely on our habitual figure - ground organisations in extralinguistic reality, and exploit our flexibility in shifting attention from one aspect to another so as to achieve certain poetic effects by inducing us to reverse the habitual figure - ground relationships. This flexibility has precedent in music and the visual arts. I have examined four examples from four literary masterpieces. An important concomitant of these close readings was to demonstrate that in most instances one may not only identify these reversals in the text, but may also suggest their effects.
In Sidney's poem and the excerpt from Beckett the resulting "message" could be paraphrased in a straightforward conceptual language.
But this is quite misleading. What is important here is not so much the "message" conveyed, but the insight resulting from the shift of mental sets. In Shelley's poem, the conceptual "message" diminishes to a minimum, and the main effect of the reversal is an intense perceptual quality that can only be approximated by such descriptive terms as "uncertainty, purposelessness, dissolution, wasting away".
This may lead us to some wider stylistic perspectives. According to Ehrenzweigthe irregular or endlessly-repeated "scribblings" that typically constitute ground both in visual and aural perception are perceived subliminally, but render the figure fuller, more plastic. A good wallpaper in a room, he says, goes unnoticed; but it makes all the difference.
Labov treats ground as a means for evaluating experience in story-telling. In the "Moonlight" Sonata it is the ground that gives the enormous dramatic accentuation to the endlessly-repeated rising triplets and the higher sequences of three notes of equal pitch.
20 best Figure- Ground images on Pinterest | Composition, Figure ground perception and Project 4
The present paper has been devoted to instances of aural, visual and verbal art in which the normal figure - ground relationship is defamiliarised or even reversed. In Western art and poetry there is a "witty" as well as a "high-serious", emotional tradition. Figure - ground manipulation, too, may have an emotional or witty effect.
The examples from Esher, Sidney and Beckett may be considered as artistic devices generating a witty quality of some degree or other. In extreme cases the witty turn may cause a shock experienced as emotional disorientation. In Romantic poetry and music, by contrast, when exposed to ground texture usurping the place of figures, readers and listeners may detect some structural resemblance between such texture and emotional processes, experiencing it as an emotional quality.
This is what happens, I suggest, at the end of Shelley's "Song", and more forcefully, in the first movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata. In Alterman's poem, I suggested, both a witty and an emotional quality may be perceived; the reader may, perhaps, perceive these two aspects simultaneously, or even switch between them at will.
One of the major functions of poetry is to yield heightened awareness. It may be the heightening of the awareness of the reality perceived, or of the cognitive mechanisms that enable us to perceive reality. The self-examination of cognitive mechanisms is still an investigation of reality; the investigation has merely lost its directness cf.
Escher's experimentation with figure and ground, for instance, yields an heightened awareness of our perceptual mechanisms.