The geometry of the conspicuous variations in the apparent contrast observed in Fall, a representative painting by Bridget Riley, is analyzed here with a computational model of human vision. Observed contrast patterns constitute a source of perceptual rivalry between compositional elements in the artwork, causing visual tension. The analysis further brings to attention previously unnoticed abstract order—a global structure that may visually anchor perception during active viewing of the artwork. The combination of the different compositional layers drives sophisticated visual effects, setting the painting apart from similar patterns that are often used as scientific experimental stimuli.

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