Have you ever looked at the front of a house and seen a face smiling at you? Or looked at some tree bark to see a profile of Elvis Presley? Grab your camera, and take a photo. There may be thousands of others who want to see it, or even buy it.
Pareidolia is the phenomenon of the mind seeing a familiar pattern of something that doesn’t really exist. The most common examples are animal shapes in clouds, the man in the moon, and faces found on various surfaces, including toast.
It is not new—Leonardo Da Vinci wrote of pareidolia as an artistic device, “Look at walls splashed with a number of stains, or stones of various mixed colours. If you have to invent some scene, you can see resemblances to a number of landscapes… Also, you can see various battles, and lively postures of strange figures, expressions on faces, costumes and an infinite number of things, which you can reduce to good integrated form.”
So, the next time your toast pops up, or you find yourself in front of a stone wall, have a good, long look; who knows what your imagination may discover.
Photo tip: Look for reflections in windows. People and objects in the reflection can mingle with what is in the scene to create interesting, imagined narratives.
“Window Reflection, 2013” is from the series: Wish You Were Here