The scale of the work and the field of vision form a curious relationship with each other. In order to see a larger image as a whole we have to gain distance from. Yet by gaining overview we miss smaller elements. To see an image in more detail, I have to move closer to inspect it, thereby losing sight of the rest. The format is thus a key to the way artworks are experienced. Massive canvases that cover our whole field of vision immerse the viewer, whereas smaller images act like a “window” to peek in. Our imagination can even connect areas between works of art with a hypothetical continuation, thereby extending imaginary space even outside the borders of the image.
The way images are read is the way they are travelled. Our field of vision is not only limited, it is also not equally sharp throughout its area. When looking at a work of art, our point of focus moves around, tracing a unique path over the surface of an object like a visual landscape. Our attention acts like any traveller: stopping at some places, focusing on some things and skipping others. Depending on how long we look at something we can form different impressions and layers of information. If the attention span is too short, we get but a general impression, whereas lingering on certain elements more than others may cause us to exaggerate them in our perception. Thus the act of looking at an image has as much influence on the visual impression as the way it is placed together by our perception.