A recently introduced computational theory of visual surface representation, termed gamut relativity, overturns the classical assumption that brightness, lightness, and transparency constitute perceptual dimensions corresponding to the physical dimensions of luminance, diffuse reflectance, and transmittance, respectively. Here I extend the theory to show how surface gloss and lightness can be understood in a unified manner in terms of the vector computation of “layered representations” of surface and illumination properties, rather than as perceptual dimensions corresponding to diffuse and specular reflectance, respectively. The theory simulates the effects of image histogram skewness on surface gloss/lightness and lightness constancy as a function of specular highlight intensity. More generally, gamut relativity clarifies, unifies, and generalizes a wide body of previous theoretical and experimental work aimed at understanding how the visual system parses the retinal image into layered representations of surface and illumination properties.
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