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ambigous figures--and free will

Anne Dalke's picture

When Jenna highlighted the passage in The Hungry Tide where Piya shows the guard a picture of the Gangetic dolphin and "he asked if it was a bird," I thought immediately of the ambiguous figure of the "Rabbit Duck" (do you know this? can you see both?)

Ambiguous figures like this one are important in illustrating not only (as Jenna said) that "people with different backgrounds perceive things differently," but also that everything we perceive we might perceive otherwise (or, as I still tell my children, "you can always tell a different story"). If you are interested in thinking-or-writing more about this phenomenon (which is a visual extension of the conversation we had yesterday about the imprecision of language) you might want to explore some the material on Serendip about ambiguous figures--as a demonstration of informed guessing and (always my friend Paul's punch line) free will....


Jenna Myers's picture

Duck Rabbit

I also thought about the Duck Rabbit. Two seniors read the childrens book Duck Rabbit during bedtime stories and they read it in a similar way to this video. It was a really cute story, but I wonder if one of them actually believed it looked like a duck and the other thought it looked like a rabbit. For me I always saw it as a rabbit, but maybe it was because there wasn't a yellow color to the "bill" of the duck/rabbit. It's interesting how much color can play a role in an object or a type of food. For example, most people think of a carrot as being orange however carrots can also be purple, but orange is the "typical" and "standard" color.

Sophia Weinstein's picture

Rabbit Duck

I also thought of rabbit duck! My sisters and I had a "make-your-own-plate" kit that we used when we were younger where you draw with special markers on special circle paper, send it away, and they send it back on a plate! We still use them they are a fantastic piece of childhood that's always there. Anyways... My sister accidently painted in art class at school, and later on one of these plates, her very own bird rabbit!

I think it is interesting that my sister drew an ambiguous figure without meaning to, yet when I look at it, I still feel that it is such. It was not her intent, but it is what others see and gather from it. I never thought I'd be analyzing this 'plate of art' that I have known so long, questioning the intent versus the impact of perception and perspective..Do you guys see both the bird & the rabbit?