As I’ve been absorbing more Lego culture, I’ve become interested in how to capture the essential elements of an object in a model. From experience we carry some of these essentials in our minds. For example if I say to you ‘chair’, you form an image of a chair in your mind. It probably is an object for humans to sit on, likely it has a back and four legs.
Young children’s play and conversation is busy with learning the classification rules that build up this a posteriori knowledge. A baby may form the rule that all animals are ‘cat’ but then this rule is refined as they use it and are corrected.
A minimal Lego model will be successful if (A) the viewer has a set of essential traits in mind, and (B) if the model displays enough of these traits to call forth the idea of the object. Luckily human brains are wired for making these leaps – for finding recognisable patterns in data (called pareidolia). In fact, it often gets us into trouble – for example seeing the Madonna in a water stain.
Perhaps you will recognise the subject of this low resolution (425 pxiel) image:
This calling up of an object or scene from minimal detail can be taken to some enchanting extremes. For example, this miniland scale Simpsons by Madoruk does not require much of a stretch:
but the characters in this version by Sergey Morozov are still instantly familiar to us: