“The sum of the whole is greater than its parts” is the idea behind the principle of gestalt. It’s the perception of a composition as a whole. While each of the individual parts have meaning on their own, taken together, the meaning may change. Our perception of the piece is based on our understanding of all the bits and pieces working in unison.
“Law of Simplicity” or the “Law of Pragnanz” – every stimulus is perceived in its most simple form.
We visually and psychologically attempt to make order out of chaos, to create harmony or structure from seemingly disconnected bits of information.
This principle shows our perceptual tendency to separate whole figures from their backgrounds based on one or more of a number of possible variables, such as contrast, colour, size, etc.
A simple composition may have only one figure. In a complex composition there will be several things to notice. As we look from one to another they each become figure in turn
The focus at any moment is the figure!
Everything that is not figure is ground!
As our attention shifts, the ground also shifts so that an object can go from figure to ground and then back.Ground is sometimes thought of as background or negative space.
Figure-ground refers to the relationship between an object and its surround. Sometimes the relationship is stable, meaning that it is easy to pick out the figure from the ground.
Other times the relationship is unstable, meaning it is difficult to pick out the figure from the ground. Rarely, the relationship is ambiguous, meaning that the figure could be the ground or vice-versa.
Clearly differentiate between figure and ground in order to focus attention and minimize perceptual confusion.
These principles apply to all forms of visual art, it is something I will consider in the future when taking photographs.
The prominent founders of Gestalt theory are Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler, and Kurt Koffka
German born psychologist Koffka carried out many experiments into what we think of as ‘perception’ his research led him, and those around him to believe that psychological phenomena cannot be interpreted as combinations of elements: parts derive their meaning from the whole, and people perceive complex entities rather than their elements.
Perception, in humans, the process whereby sensory stimulation is translated into organized experience. That experience, or percept, is the joint product of the stimulation and of the process itself. Relations found between various types of stimulation (e.g., light waves and sound waves) and their associated percepts suggest inferences that can be made about the properties of the perceptual process; theories of perceiving then can be developed on the basis of these inferences. Because the perceptual process is not itself public or directly observable (except to the perceiver himself, whose percepts are given directly in experience), the validity of perceptual theories can be checked only indirectly. That is, predictions derived from theory are compared with appropriate empirical data, quite often through experimental research.