We’ve been exploring the idea of defamiliarization as a means of making the familiar seem strange and Jeff requested examples so here’s the first one that popped into my mind – tilt-shift photography.  This is a type of photography or post-processing that makes something life-size appear to be a miniature.  A photo of a train, for example, appear to be a miniaturized toy train, or a photo of a football game looks like teeeeeeny tiny little dolls.

I think this style of photography has become so popular among hobbyists precisely because of it’s defamiliarization – it just looks weird.  Cognitively we know that those are actual people in that photo but the visual processing part of my brain is telling me that it’s actually not.

Another example of defamiliarization that this reminds me of is the “gigantism” (is this the right word?) that can occur when watching 3d film.  I just viewed some 3d footage for the first time last week (I know, I’m behind the times) and while I knew it was video, the visual part of my brain was trying to convince me that there were in fact tiny little people in the screen.  There are a number of technical / optical reasons for this that I won’t go into but the effect was rather disconcerting.

The commonality I see in these two examples is cognitive dissonance – when you simultaneously hold two conflicting ideas (ie that the people are really life-size and that the people are really little dolls).  Perhaps this is one strategy that can be employed to cause defamiliarization?