Motion Gestalt for Screen Design: Applied Theory of Grouping Principles for Visual Motion Integrity



Jinsook Kim, Ph. D.


Adviser: Prof. Sharon Poggenpohl

Co-adviser: Dr. Judith Gregory


Institute of Design

Illinois Institute of Technology

Chicago, Illinois

May 2007





              How do we interpret and characterize motion on screen? Motion interpretation or its meaning for direct use and application for screen design is largely un-theorized despite extensive psychophysical and neurological understandings developed by science. The focus of this research is complementary from a human use standpoint, to build a theoretical basis for visual communication to identify motion as structural meaning for emphasis or integrity on screen. It sets the basis for providing practical guidelines for design performance on screen involving visual motion. Gestalt theory, with its widely accepted principles that guide meaningful or holistic visual experience, forms the starting point of investigation.

              The process of building a theory of Motion Gestalt involves systematically extending and defining grouping principles in Gestalt theory to accommodate the element of time and its resulting possibilities of motion. Grouping principles in sound provide informative sources for definition in that they have apparent rhythmic or patterned character in time and can be related to motion. The definitions become the basis for movie experiments that explore the theoretically informed concepts. Data from the experiments are analyzed and interpreted qualitatively using a system of notation to understand the research subjectsÕ responses in the context of an experimental approach to characterize the meaningfulness of the extended definitions.

              The grouping principles for motion provide a new theoretical understanding as a basic approach to the construction of meaningful interpretation of visual motion for communication design practice. For example, such understanding of motionÕs meaningful implication becomes important in dynamic unfolding patterns of complex data. The motion grouping principles attempt to define moving stimuli in terms of simplicity of reception on the part of the viewer. The definitions for grouping moving screen stimuli are based on: frequent movement, similar directional movement, similar speed, parallel movement in replication, causative logic, semantic summary, and meaningful emphasis of one pattern of motion over another. The findings are suggestive for understanding and designing motion on screen to support the creation of structural meaning or simplicity in motion as a reflection of Motion Gestalt.