We learn from Dr. Dale J. Cohen again this week.
This time we learn about the experiments he designed to investigate the relationship between drawing accuracy and how artists look at a subject. In Look Little, Look Often: The Influence of Gaze Frequency on Drawing Accuracy, Cohen presents interesting information about how artists glance between a subject and their drawing.
Let’s begin by defining gaze frequency.
Dr. Cohen defines gaze frequency as “the rate at which artists glance between their drawing and the stimulus” (Cohen, 2005). What Cohen calls the “stimulus” in his experiments, I will refer to as the “subject” here. While stimulus is the more appropriate term to use, it would be confusing to use the term in this review without you having read Cohen’s review of drawing accuracy, stimulus interpretation and how stimulus interpretation can influence accuracy and the way marks are made on paper. Since his stimuli are what we would call subjects, I will refer to them in this way.
In Look Little, Look Often, Cohen (2005) describes four experiments conducted at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Once again, some students participated as “artists” (i.e., they completed assigned rendering tasks), while others participated as “critics” who rated the accuracy of drawings produced by those in the artist group.
In his first experiment, Cohen (2005) investigated if there was a correlation between gaze frequency and drawing accuracy. Artists (both art majors and nonart majors) were shown two color photographs — portraits of males seen from the shoulders up (Cohen, 2005). The photos were placed about 51 cm to the right of the participant and at a 45 degree angle, as this allowed the video recorder to record the artist and how they worked (Cohen, 2005). The video recorder was positioned in front of the artist and was placed in a doorway of an adjoining room behind a curtain with a hole cut out for the camera lens (Cohen, 2005). Artists were given 10 minutes to work on the photographs (Cohen, 2005). The video recordings were viewed by a coder who coded eye movements using a software program written by Cohen. Gaze frequency, the number of times an artist switched their gaze “from the photo to the drawing and back again per second” was measured in Hertz (Cohen, 2005).
Data collected in Experiment 1 demonstrated that a positive relationship exists between gaze frequency and accuracy rating. That is, the higher the gaze frequency, the higher the accuracy rating.
Experiments 2,3 and 4 further explored the findings of Experiment 1. In these experiments, gaze frequency was manipulated. Here is a very quick look at these experiments and the results of each.
Research Question: Does gaze frequency influence drawing ability?
Findings: Gaze frequency influences drawing accuracy only for trained artists. Cohen (2005) found that decreasing the gaze frequencies of trained artists decreased the accuracy of their drawings.
Cohen (2005) repeated Experiment 2. This time, though, he increased the gazing times because it appeared that the times set in Experiment 2 were too fast for non-artists. In this experiment, gaze frequency was “constant across artistic training levels” (Cohen, 2005). Results indicated that gaze frequency can inhibit artist drawing accuracy.
Cohen (2005) repeated Experiment 3. This time there were only two gaze frequency periods. One was 3 seconds and the other 10 minutes. Because of observations observed in Experiment 1 (see Cohen’s paper), it was hypothesized that the drawings created during the 3-second gazing period would be less accurate than the 10-minute period. Data from this experiment indicated that gaze frequency inhibits drawing accuracy (Cohen, 2005). Raters rated the drawings rendered at 3 seconds to be less accurate than those rendered at 10 minutes — a time period in which artists could look at the subject and their drawing at will and not in response to an experimental stimulus (Cohen, 2005). It was also observed that trained artists switched their gaze more often than non-artists (Cohen, 2005).
The summaries above are brief and don’t do Cohen’s experiments justice. To truly understand his methods, his results, and how his assessment of 130 artists demonstrates that higher gaze frequencies result in more accurate drawings, read Cohen (2005). His article is available online on the website of the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Cohen, Dale J. 2005. Look little, look often: The influence of gaze frequency on drawing accuracy. Perception & Psychophysics. 67(6): 997-1009. Web. http://people.uncw.edu/cohend/research/papers/Cohen%202005.pdf
[accessed 11 September 2013]
Gaze frequency and drawing plants. What have you noticed?
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