The mind can plays tricks on us and Gestalt principles can be used to manipulate people. Psycologists try to understand how and why we can’t always trust what we see at first glance. Learning how you see is valuable if you are interested in understanding yourself and the world better. The Gestalt theory of study has been critisized by other scolars, but the idea is widly known. Gestalt is where the saying, ‘The whole is other (not greater) than the sum of its parts.’ comes from. The basic components or parts of any visual image are described in terms like shapes, points, lines, and curves. Our brains look for patterns and there are many terms to describes this, such as:
- Symmetry and order
- Read more about the theory
An example of looking closely at an image
I selected this image from my Facebook feed as an example of manipulative and false images. What seemed off to me when I looked at this image was the odd mix of religion, sports, and politics. In political images for campaigns, manipulative images are everywhere!
What Makes the image suspicious?
- Position and scale of politician
- Surprising and surreal size of crowd
- No credit or photo attribution
This image of Berny Sanders stuck out to me because it is different from others. He is wearing more casual clothing. The size of the crowd and arena is very surreal. On closer inspection, I noticed that the Facebook image had no linked source. Curious about when and where the photo what taken I did a google image search.
Doing image research and looking closely
With a google image search I quickly found an exact match to a Tumbler blog site where again there was no attribution to the photo, but there was a comment about the large crowds at his March 2016 rally in Salt Lake City. A quick search for news from that event revealed that this image was not taken there because Bernie dressed differently. In taking a closer look, I realized that it was two images collaged together.
Becuase of the similarity, continuity, and desire for the closure of the area, the two pictures merge into one. Also, the drastic difference in scale between the crowd and the projection of Bernie make the smaller differences between the crowd shots less noticeable. By doing a google search for the top section, I immediately found a match and photo credit in an LA Times article from August of 2015. The bottom from Bernies time in Portland. What more, the original images show the real perspective of the journalist’s viewpoint and scale of the audience. The text in the top photo is actually mirrored and that indicates he is behind the projection.