Interaction between image and text during the process of biblical art reception

  • Gregor Hardiess University of Tübingen
  • Caecilie Weissert
Keywords: Eye movement, eye tracking, contextual relevance of text, top-down processing, attentional control, art perception, region of interest


In our exploratory study, we ask how naive observers, without a distinct religious background, approach biblical art that combines image and text. For this purpose, we choose the book ‘New biblical figures of the Old and New Testament’ published in 1569 as source of the stimuli. This book belongs to the genre of illustrated Bibles, which were very popular during the Reformation. Since there is no empirical knowledge regarding the interaction between image and text during the process of such biblical art reception, we selected four relevant images from the book and measured the eye movements of participants in order to characterize and quantify their scanning behavior related to such stimuli in terms of i) looking at text (text usage), ii) text vs. image interaction measures (semantic or contextual relevance of text), and iii) narration. We show that texts capture attention early in the process of inspection and that text and image interact. Moreover, semantics of texts are used to guide eye movements later through the image, supporting the formation of the narrative.

How to Cite
Hardiess, G., & Weissert, C. (2021). Interaction between image and text during the process of biblical art reception. Journal of Eye Movement Research, 13(2).
Special thematic issue "Eye Tracking and Visual Arts"

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