Occlusion shapes and sizes in a theory of depiction

British Journal of Aesthetics 44 (4):319-341 (2004)
John Hyman has used the objective character of occlusion shapes and of relative occlusion sizes to develop a more objective approach both in the analysis of linear perspective and in the theory of depiction. To this end Hyman develops two Occlusion Principles, plus an Aperture Colour Principle (which I do not discuss), which, together with our knowledge of appearances, are supposed to tell us what a picture depicts. I argue that Hyman underestimates the crucial role of the psychological element in the work that the objective occlusion shape and relative occlusion sizes are assigned to do. Two pictures may have different contents in spite of the same occlusion shapes and the same (relative) occlusion sizes. It is the operation of constancy scaling in pictorial space which frustrates Hyman’s objectivism both in the domain of linear perspective and in the domain of depiction.
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DOI 10.1093/bjaesthetics/44.4.319
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