Seeing Black and White

Seeing Black and White

Seeing Black and White

Seeing Black and White

Excerpt

I don't remember when I started writing this book, but I think it was about twenty years ago. Several factors have slowed down the project, in addition to the more trivial factors that one can imagine. I was never willing to work on the book at the expense of raising our son Johan. Then, halfway through the writing, my theoretical perspective underwent a major shift with the recognition that the concept of codetermination (a kind of interaction between frames of reference) allows one to explain a vast range of lightness errors—including both failures of lightness constancy and what are called illusions. Without this shift the book would have been more exclusively about veridical lightness perception. At one point I felt the book was complete except for the history chapter. My work on this benefited enormously from the translation by Dejan Todorovic´ of the important but unknown book Ding und Schatten (Object and Shadow) by the Hungarian Gestaltist Lajos Kardos. I am greatly indebted to Dejan for his important contribution to this book and to the field. Being able to read Kardos in English influenced both my thinking and this book. First, I discovered that Kardos had long ago proposed virtually the same theoretical construction to which I had arrived independently through my own empirical work. Second, the work of Kardos made me realize just how coherent, and I would say, fascinating, had been the development of lightness theory prior to World War II. In the end, the history chapter took over much of the book, as the historical approach solved many of my organizational puzzles.

But I found it impossible to present each topic in a coherent way and at the same time, portray the historical flow. In the resulting com-

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