The Teaching of The Vase

It is often the simplest things that make the most sense, and as a visual The Rubin Vase is very simple. 

The things that The Vase teaches us are, however, far from simple. 

I will return to this vase on more than one occasion, but here on the last day of the old year, you will get the first glimpse of it. Just to make sure that you will remember it well into 2008. 

I am sure, that you already know The Rubin Vase or simply The Vase, as I will call it. Well, you better remember it, because I will not be able to show it to you simply for copyright reasons. It is so well protected, that I will not post a picture of The Vase on this blog.

Not yet, that is. First I need to make my own drawing of it. That I will, and have that drawing posted at a later date. So look forward to it in despair since I can’t draw 🙂 . 

In the meantime I will link to it. Go and and take a good, long look and report on what you see. If to no other, then simply to yourself.

Here it is, the Rubin’s Vase.  And a portion of Wikipedia words to go with it. 

Edgar Rubin was Danish and affiliated to the gestalt movement in Germany. His main research was on visual figures and as early as 1915. Rubin did not invent the The Vase, but he made it famous.  

The important thing with the vase is that it contains “two images at the same time”: both the vase and the two profiles.

You are, probably, able to shift your attention between these to impressions: the vase and the profiles. I say probably, since this does not work for all people. More on this in a later post. 

Normally, The Vase is related to a discussion about figure and ground, meaning that depending upon what you see as figure and what you see as ground, will determine what impression you get from The Vase. 

But in terms of communication, and that’s why we are here, right?, the teaching of The Vase has a far more important implication than what immediately comes out of the figure/ground discussion. 

The main teaching is, that you are not able to hold more than one impression at the focus of you attention at the same time. You’ll observe either the vase or the profiles. Not both the vase and the profile at the same time. 

And a little trick on remembering: When you make a toast later tonight, around midnight would be a good time to do it, then try to zip your champagne from The Vase. Do that, and I will promise you that you will never again forget The Rubin Vase, and the teaching of it.

Not that it tastes badly being more than a hundred years old, but you will have made that little gesture, set that little mark on it, that makes all the difference in remembering.  Try it! It works. 

And while I am at it: Happy New Year 🙂 . 


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