Quotes from the book The Psychology of Perspective and Renaissance Art
by Michael Kubovy.
"One should avoid thinking of perspective as a method that mimics, in
some sense, what we see."
"Central projection is a somewhat more general geometric transformation
"We might conclude that only disparate images seen by the two eyes can
produce the sort of vivid experience of depth we are discussing. Such a
conclusion would be premature, as we shall presently see. Indeed, on might
say that the reason we do not see vivid depth in pictures (wether viewed with
one eye or two) is not because they fail to fulfill the necessary conditions
for such perception, but rather because pictures bear two kinds of incompatible
information, information about the three-dimensional scene they represent, as
well as information about their own two-dimensionality. It follows that if
we could rid ourselves of the latter, the former should produce a vivid and
compelling experience of depth, as stricking as stereopsis."
"Brunelleschi's use of a peephole in his first demonstration was instrumental
in producing a compelling experience of depth for two reasons: First, it
increased the effectiveness of the illusion by forcing the viewer to place
his or her eye at the center of the projection of the perspective (thus
making the picture a projective surrogate for the scene); second, it reduced the
viewer's information regarding the flatness of the picture plane."
"And this implies that the Brunelleschi peephole can give rise to an illusion
so strong that it could properly be called a delusion."
"Rosinski et al.'s experiment confirms Pirenne's hypothesis: If the subjects
can see the picture plane, perspective is robust; if they cannot, perspective
is not robust. In other words the availability of information regarding the
location and the orientation of the plane is necessary and sufficient for
the robustness of perspective."
"This observation suggests that although the standard claim about trompe
l'oeil -- namely that it requires the representation of an object of shallow
depth -- is true enough, it fails to do justice to the psychological
complexity of the phenomenon. It is perhaps correct as a statement of
a necessary condition for the occurence of the trompe l'oeil effect, but
it leaves the question of the effect's sufficient conditions unmasked."
"Although we have shown that some distortions do take place in the
perception of paintings that are viewed by moving observers, it is the
robustness of perspective that emerges most clearly from our analysis. As we
will see presently, it is this robustness that is probably the most important
justification for not using Brunelleschi peepholes to view perspective
"The Alberti window differs from all others in that it functions properly
only if it is not completely transparent: We must perceive the window in order
to see the world."
"Perhaps it is not the wide angle of the view per se, but rather local
features of the depictions, that cause these pictures to look distorted."
"The visual system, so tolerant of variations in the representation of
vertices of cubes, is completely intolerant of variations in the representation
"So perspective, as it was practiced by the artists, was far from being an
inflexible system. Because it was subordinated to perception and because
different kind of objects were made to obey the laws of central projection
to different extents, a unifying concept such as Alberti's window cannot do
justice to the subtleties and complexities of Renaissance perspective."
"We cannot arbitrarily change the way we perceive optical information, nor
can we arbitrarily change our motor responses to it, regardless of time or
effort we might invest in doing so."
[c.f. experiments on people subjected to reverted vision]
"Even though perspective has a very sturdy geometric and perceptual
foundation, which makes it, in some sense, the best method to represent space
on a flat surface, the question of wether perspective is "true" is far less
important than the inquiry about how perspective was put to use by
Renaissance artists in an artistic context."