There's a hypothesis in robotics and animated film called "The Uncanny Valley".
It has a curve associated with it. The curve plots our emotional response to an
object/ movie as a function of the degree of realism. The emotional response is
positive and increases for a while, then goes for a big negative dip before
going positive again. I could come up with examples for points on the curve:
stick figures to Wall-E to The Incredibles to Polar Express to Seinfeld. Polar
Express creeps me out.
Over the years, I was occasionally making comments on IRTC entries that they had
wooden attempts at exhaustive photorealism. It just struck me that I think the
"Uncanny Valley" hypothesis also applies to images of still landscapes. For a
long time, I thought I was just being picky or unsportsmanlike. But I think
that the intentionally stylized backgrounds of say, Ice Age, generate more
positive emotion than attempts at exhaustive realism which get a grade of "C".
I think there were a lot of other folks who thought it be far more important to
be as far as possible to the right on the curve, even if it meant you were in
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