#K12ArtChallenge PERCEPTION: Pareidolia

Do you see animal forms and faces in the clouds, or even in objects? You are not alone. Pareidolia is the human tendency to see patterns in random and ambiguous data. Knowing that we have this patterned recognition, that awareness can be applied when making art and can lead to interesting creations.

Much like Pareidolia, Multistable Perception, which is switching from one perception to another, can give artwork new dimensions. We've all looked at a cube outline and wondered why one corner looks so close, but then the same corner appears the farthest one away after a single blink. (This is known as the Necker Cube)

Necker Cube

Necker Cube

So have humans always seen bunny clouds? A famous scientist offered his take:

Carl Sagan, the American cosmologist and author, made the case that Pareidolia was a survival tool. In his 1995 book, "The Demon-Haunted World – Science as a Candle in the Dark," he argued that this ability to recognize faces from a distance or in poor visibility was an important survival technique. While this instinct enables humans to instantly judge whether an oncoming person is a friend or foe, Sagan noted that it could result in some misinterpretation of random images or patterns of light and shade as being faces.


A chimney vent at Casa Mila, by architect Antoni Gaudi.

A chimney vent at Casa Mila, by architect Antoni Gaudi.

The Challenge

Create an artwork that uses Pareidolia and/or Multistable Perception. All media accepted.

Share your work @iSchool Advocate #K12ArtChallenge

An example in the Arts: Giuseppe Arcimboldo knew about this human tendency when he painted this "portrait" in 1573.

Summer (2), 1573, Giuseppe Arcimboldo.  Image source

Summer (2), 1573, Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Image source

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