What is the representation in early vision? Considerable research has demonstrated that the representation is not equally faithful throughout the visual field; representation appears to be coarser in peripheral and unattended vision, perhaps as a strategy for dealing with an information bottleneck in visual processing. In the last few years, a convergence of evidence has suggested that in peripheral and unattended regions, the information available consists of local summary statistics. Given a rich set of these statistics, many attributes of a pattern may be perceived, yet precise location and configuration information is lost in favor of the statistical summary. This representation impacts a wide range of visual tasks, including peripheral identification, visual search, and visual cognition of complex displays. This paper discusses the implications for understanding visual perception, as well as for imaging applications such as information visualization.