You know that feeling when the eyes in a painting seem to follow as you walk around the room? If you ever noticed it, i think you’ll agree with me that it’s quite creepy to say the least. But have you ever wondered why this weird phenomenon happens?
Let’s find out.
Even though this question has puzzled scientists for years, the answer came from a 2004 study conducted at the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands. As it turns out, all it takes for this to work is to have the person in the painting look straight ahead. Our visual perception will take care the rest. Here’s how this works. (the article continues after the ad)
People know when an eye is looking at them when they can see the very front on the eye. On the other hand, we know that an eye is looking away from us when we see the side view of the eye. When artists have the person in the painting look straight ahead, since the painting is a flat surface, the only available view is always the front view. That means that it’s impossible to walk around and get a side view of the eye – we will, in all cases, get a front view. Because of this “always front view” sight, when we walk around the room we have the perception that the eyes on the painting are following us.
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Sources: STUDY REVEALS WHY EYES IN SOME PAINTINGS SEEM TO FOLLOW VIEWERS | Ever Wonder Why?: Here Are the Answers!