Friday, 12 May 2017

Green man

TreeI don't know much about the green man. I've seen carvings on buildings, of course, but I'm not aware of any sightings of actual green men in the wild. So I was intrigued to find this object (right) in a recent photo I took. The dark tall, narrow bush in the middle of the photograph resembles the proportions of a human figure. But what struck me was a fairly obvious (to me anyway) face at the top of the 'figure'. It is, apparently looking towards the right. This is a misperception so it is entirely possible that other people won't see it, even though it's obvious to me. Whether you can see it will also depend on what device you are using to view the photo.

BushI can even still see the 'face' in a cropped version of the photo (left) which makes the image appear bigger. In this version, the 'face' is just above the centre of the frame. I can quite clearly see a nose, eyes and a bright area above suggesting a forehead. A light 'chin' is also outlined by a dark line below.

Given that the face is clearly made up of leaves it gives the impression of a classic green man carving. Though I see a 'face' in my misperception, it is clearly not a human face. The substituted image (from visual memory) is probably that of a green man carving rather than any real face.

Many of the misperceptions I've seen in recent years have been of trees or bushes as human figures. One reason for this is, I imagine, is that bushes or small trees can have similar sizes and proportions to a human figure. This does not explain how apparent faces are often seen too. This is, I imagine, is down to the complex patterns formed by leaves. It will also depend crucially on the illumination. Putting these factors, illumination and presence of leaves, together means that 'faces' and 'figures' probably only appear at certain specific times. This is one of the problems with investigating misperception, unless you can reproduce the exact conditions of the original observation, the misperception may not appear again.

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