I’ve been reading The Age of Insight by Nobel Prize winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. In this fascinating book about art and neurobiology, he relates visual techniques of artists to the brain’s processing of visual information.
Today I explore hard and soft edges in a schematic portrait of a human head. Kandel pointed out that the first order processing of images in the visual cortex is concerned with edges and orientation.
In the study below, the right side of the head is sharply delineated by a line, as are certain facial features. From these lines, I painted colors and faded them with distance. The right side of the face is not bounded by any line at all.
The right side is certainly ambiguous while the left is stark in its detail. I don’t quite know what to make of this experiment. I like the ambiguity, which is a useful technique in itself; stark, unambiguous lines also have their use in an artist’s armamentarium. The trick is in how each technique is used.