Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See

Donald Hoffman, Author W. W. Norton & Company $29.95 (294p) ISBN 978-0-393-04669-4
With wit, insight and charm, Hoffman, University of California, Irvine professor of computer science, cognitive science and philosophy, explains in this spectacular volume how we use vision to construct the world around us. Hoffman does a masterful job of demonstrating that vision encompasses so much more than merely what we see, and of illustrating that much of what we see may not, in fact, exist. Presenting the 35 rules of vision that scientists claim we use to piece together our environment (""Rule 1. Always interpret a straight line in an image as a straight line in 3D""), he analyzes many common optical illusions, explains how we perceive motion, color and depth, and philosophizes about the nature of reality and perception. Throughout, Hoffman makes wonderful use of myriad photographs to demonstrate the points he is making. The photos in the chapter on motion fail, necessarily, to catch the imagination the way the others do, but an ancillary Web site allows observation of the full motion of his examples. Not only is this book an outstanding example of creative popular science but, given the many optical illusions it presents, it's also the rare book that, in line with its subject, can be thoroughly enjoyed both right side up and upside down. Twenty color and 130 b&w illustrations. Agents: Katinka Matson and John Brockman. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
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