The Poggendorff illusion before Poggendorff

ZAVAGNO, Daniele, DANEYKO, Olga and STUCCHI, Natale (2015). The Poggendorff illusion before Poggendorff. Perception, 44 (4), 383-399.

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This paper is about the Poggendorff illusion in pictorial artworks. In particular, it deals with the role played by the Poggendorff illusion in the making of the geometrical misalignments in the mosaic known as Lunetta di San Lorenzo in Ravenna (Italy) and in Rubens’s oil on panel Descent from the Cross in Antwerp (Belgium). Three experiments are presented. Experiment 1 tested the role of viewing distance in perceived collinearity in the mosaic by asking participants to adjust two ends of a cross in silhouette renderings of the saint projected so to mimic its original size. Results confirm an effect of viewing distance and support the hypothesis that the author of the mosaic became aware of the illusion and attempted to ‘fix’ it. Experiment 2 aimed at verifying perceived collinearity in a book- size version of Rubens’s Descent from the Cross by employing a similar adjustment method. Results demonstrate that the Poggendorff illusion affects perceived collinearity in the painting, but perceptual collinearity does not agree with the actual geometrical misalignment in book-size reproductions of the masterpiece. Experiment 3 tested the role of viewing distance in a classic Poggendorff illusion configuration by employing the same setup as in experiment 1. Contrary to what was found in experiment 1, viewing distance did not modulate the magnitude of the illusion in the classic display, suggesting that the outcome of perceived collinearity is sensitive to the complexity of the visual scene. The difference in results between experiments 1 and 3 underscore the necessity of new tests before any reasonable conclusion can be drawn about the whys and wherefores of Rubens’s misalignment.Z

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Poggendorff illusion, visual arts, arts and illusions
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research
Identification Number:
Page Range: 383-399
Depositing User: Olga Daneyko
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2018 17:07
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 16:45

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