Conceptual Influence on Photographs

In collaboration with Mary A. Peterson from the University of Arizona I studied the influence of titles on the perception of photographs. We used an eye-tracker machine to measure changes in eye movements to test the following. Participants were presented with photographs from the artist John Gutmann. Half of the photographs were presented with their original titles and half without titles. Titles were presented before each photograph. We tested whether eye movements changed while observing a photograph presented with titles in contrast with photographs presented without titles.

We were able to find that participant’s eyes were more active while looking at a photograph when they had access to the photograph’s title than when they perceived photographs without titles. We take this as evidence of the intrinsic relationship between conceptual and visual knowledge.


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