I'd say it is the exact opposite: no one will focus on flat nearly-featureless surfaces, because there is no fine detail to focus on. It's easy to "take in" at a glance, so the brain doesn't direct any more attention to it.
Just use google images search for glass skyscrapers an repeat the experiment.
This is because your brain needs to do more legwork to figure out the underlying shape when you look at reflective suefaces that are mostly flat and show you parts of a sky that you may or may not see at that point.
Reflectivity can also work in your favour, to highlight shapes, especially when the paint additionally has a diffuse color (think of cars) and they are in eye level (less confusing sky reflections), but highly reflective glass buildings with nothing else to gisually hold on will most of the time just reflect a random patch of the sky.
What visual readability is, is the answer to the question how fast and effortless a image can be read. A certain degree of unreadability may be interesting even, but I am not sure if architects are that aware of the reflective part of their buildings.
E.g. I happen to have the luck to have a second sun in the end of the day despite my east-facing windows, because one of the glas buildings opposite. I am sure they didn’t simulate that. I am also sure this increases the temperature in the city.
Most architects I met just think glas looks rad and all their collegues use it and so they do too.
They actually might, after arc-shaped reflective buildings started almost literally melting cars that happened to be parked in the focus of the reflected sunlight, and some constructs had to be built in the line of that sunlight to protect the cars.
But the article presented here seems unscientific and misleading to me. They say "the brain avoids looking at" and then the "evidence" that they produce is an AI prediction generated by a closed-source (meaning unverifiable) software. It would be correct if they say "3M's prediction ignores glass skyscrapers", but that might just as well be a bug in their algorithm.
As a counter-example, the Keppler skyscrapers in harborfront Singapore are mostly made from glass to fight off the heat, yet they are pleasing to look at and have very interesting reflection patterns. And they are certainly remembered by locals as a great navigation landmark.
The thing I find most interesting is how strongly people want to defend boring glass facades.
If people’s eyes aren’t being drawn to it, then it seems like it’s succeeded at that aim.
>Mother Nature, the architect of our perception, with a good 3.8 billion years of design experience, won’t allow it. We simply will not connect to a place she informs us isn’t there or worth looking at!
And I'd tend to agree. If the purpose of the design is to act as if there is not a building, act as if it's a non-place - then what should I remember about it? Why should I want to be there, if there's "nothing"?
Still the hypothesis is interesting and plausible. Maybe there is a way to test it more rigorously, this time based on actual eye tracking.
Where is your evidence that it was all completely faked?
You can find some more details in their validation study: http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/1006827O/3msm-visual-atte...
Looking at the quality of image recognition AI, for example the famous guacamole/cat or panda/gun mis-predictions, that's a very far stretch.
I used to work on training a saliency-predicting NN and apart from "color and texture are great" it didn't learn much. So I would bet that taking a picture of the same building with a colorful sunset in your back, so that the sun's colors are reflected on the building but not visible in the sky, would generate a hugely different result.
Validation data is eye tracking
When I had a corporate job, I worked in a large glassy building that wasn't a skyscraper. It was initially one story -- though tall for just one story because it was industrial scale and held more than a thousand employees (about two thousand, at least after the addition).
The one story building reflected the sea of blacktop parking lots around it and appeared ominously black.
They added a two-story addition to one end and moved my department there. It became clearer that the building appeared to be ominously black because of what it reflected. The taller part reflected the sky while its base still seemed ominously black.
It became even clearer that this was so when they built a three-story building next door to house the IT department. That building mostly looked like floating clouds and blue sky. Very little of it seemed visually heavy and ominously dark.
But they were equally hard to mentally process. It was hard to comprehend these buildings whose appearance morphed based on what was being reflected. It was hard to figure out where they began and ended, what they were made of, etc.
It was not only disorienting, it was disturbing. It was a bit like working in a fun house mirror.
Cherry picking. The sample images are misleading at best. First one is mainly three buildings with quite some space around like sky and ground, even more buildings in the back. Second one is basically only the facade of one building. Sure there is a car, a bit of street and even some sky. But really there is not much else to look at.
I'm generally not a fan of the all-glass architecture, or even modern architecture in general, and prefer buildings made of stone, and preferably on a human scale, like 19th and early 20th century architecture. After the War, buildings became featureless and soulless, and when architects started making them look good from a distance or from the sky, and not up close. Designed to look good as a model but not something for real people to live in.
Recent years have fortunately seen a return to more sensible architecture.
Like the commenters mentioned:
- the photos are chosen in such a way that it's obvious eyes won't go looking into the buildings
- there is no mention of the sample size regarding participants and photos that were shown. looks like cherrypicking
You stated your opinion in your comment. Why do you need to flag the post?
You can look at their validation study, it does ok: http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/1006827O/3msm-visual-atte...
which are mostly edges
Edit: added more links.
I certainly wouldn't make any claims about what this says about the human visual system, but at least for these two algorithms they do seem to have troubles finding interesting key points to track on the buildings.
And if you're curious about why modern architecture is 'avoidant' here:
LMK if you have questions; always open to discussing.
On a more serious note, this is kinda of an isolated part of Boston city. It's a port that requires crossing the bridge. The bigger problem is that they are building huge buildings with no connection to the subway/metro network.
The problem I see with reflective camouflage is that it depends on the angle. At worst it reflects sunlight and can create flashes that can be seen from extremely far away. That's how signaling mirrors work.
If imitating the blue sky is what you want, just paint the thing blue. In fact, that part of the idea behind the "horizon blue" uniform of the French army during World War 1.
BUT in those photos, man, there are so many confounding variables. How about the fact that the sky is brighter than the skyscrapers, so you could be looking for where it is brighter? Secondly, there isn't much detail or variation on those "boxes", so your brain doesn't find that patch very interesting. And so on.
There are plenty of skyscrapers people notice right away, e.g. the empire state building, the space needle, etc.
...of course the brain looks elsewhere.
And I don't think it's a given that it's a bad thing either. If you think about an ocean - people tend to look at the horizon not stare at the fairly uniform ocean surface. Nothing wrong with the ocean surface though