Gestalt 2014

“the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”

Both images above have the same shapes and objects.  How they are positioned makes all the difference.

The following quote is from a TED Talk given by Andrew Stanton, the writer/director of Finding Nemo and the writer behind all of the Toy Story films as well as Wall-E. This quote is referencing storytelling through writing, but it also applies to visual art.

“Storytelling without dialogue. It’s the purest form of cinematic storytelling. It’s the most inclusive approach you can take. It confirmed something I really had a hunch on, is that the audience actually wants to work for their meal. They just don’t want to know that they’re doing that. That’s your job as a storyteller, is to hide the fact that you’re making them work for their meal. We’re born problem solvers. We’re compelled to deduce and to deduct,because that’s what we do in real life. It’s this well-organized absence of information that draws us in. There’s a reason that we’re all attracted to an infant or a puppy. It’s not just that they’re damn cute; it’s because they can’t completely express what they’re thinking and what their intentions are. And it’s like a magnet. We can’t stop ourselves from wanting to complete the sentence and fill it in.

I first started really understanding this storytelling device when I was writing with Bob Peterson on “Finding Nemo.” And we would call this the unifying theory of two plus two. Make the audience put things together. Don’t give them four, give them two plus two. The elements you provide and the order you place them in is crucial to whether you succeed or fail at engaging the audience. “

The Gestalt principle maintains that the human eye sees objects in their entirety before perceiving their individual parts, suggesting the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The goal of the Gestalt projects is to show only the most important details, forcing your brain to uncover and complete the rest of the image.


How much information do we really need in order to see a circle?

This is a fraction of the original circle, but we still visually connect the random pieces to form a circle.  There is more empty space than positive space.  




Continuation occurs when the eye is compelled to move through one object and continue to another object.

Our eyes follow the path created by lines in the paper.


Similarity occurs when objects look similar to one another. People often perceive them as a group or pattern.

When similarity occurs, an object can be emphasised if it is dissimilar to the others. This is called anomaly.

Here we don’t see the hundred black shapes, we see the one dissimilar to the rest.



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