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Seeking Information for Article on Scientific Measurement of Aesthetics

As a journalist and writer and an artist, I am not a professional, academic, scientist or expert in any of the fields that most most of you folks are engaged in or are your own life's field of endeavor. I have taught for several years as an adjunct in the field of media studies. I have written and do wish to continue to write in the future about subjects that you are involved with that I have a level of familiarity with.

I'm writing today because I'm excited to write about further scientific study in the field of aesthetics. There has been a study published in the journal Environment and Behavior abstract online at: http://eab.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/08/08/0013916512453839.ab... "An Integrative and Comprehensive Methodology for Studying Aesthetic Experience in the Field: Merging Movement Tracking, Physiology, and Psychological Data"

Unfortunately I'm not teaching at present and do not have access to an academic library or this article; I am attempting to do so.

I'm asking if any of you have any background information in this area, or perhaps any personal experience in this area that might be helpful to me in my writing. The article would not be limited to just this approach to aesthetics and would include philosophical approaches among others. To be brief I will close and can be reached by email at mark.e.gould@gmail.com. Thank you in advance for your time. Best Regards, Mark

Abstract

In the interdisciplinary context of the Swiss National Research Project eMotion—mapping museum experience, an integrative methodology for visitor research was developed. The goal was to investigate aesthetic experiences in the environment of a fine-arts museum. The methodology and technical setup merged different data levels (movement tracking data, heart rate and skin conductance, sociological variables, emotional and aesthetic evaluations of specific artworks) into one integrated data set. The merging was achieved online with high spatial and temporal resolution, using data gloves and a wireless network. This data set was used to generate information cartographies of visitors, visualizing their spatial behavior and physiological responses in the environment. In a field study with 576 museum visitors, the methodology was successfully implemented. Significant associations between physiology and aesthetic evaluations supported the validity of the cartographic representations; participants reported little reactivity toward the technical equipment. This methodology appears feasible for environmental behavior research in general.

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Mark, I am writing a blog on this very theme. It is incomplete and very rough as I am still trying to gather information on the subject. You can read it here: http://kkartlab.in/profiles/blogs/how-science-is-associated-with-ae...  Please go through the comments too. I am not finding time to fine tune this blog.

Although scientists are trying to give a formula for good aesthetics, I am  not very convinced. There is still a lot of work to do to arrive at a conclusion. One person's beauty is another one's ugliness. Things like cultural conditioning of minds play a lot of role in having aesthetic experiences and therefore it is difficult to have  universal scientific measurements. If you try the experiment in Asian conditions with the same art works you get different set of results. For example, Mona Lisa is considered as one of the beautiful art works in the West but I have heard  people here questioning this 'concept of beauty'. They say other things like artist's name, fame, cultural conditioning of minds, people's definition of beauty   have an effect on aesthetic measurements. Without taking all these things into consideration, your work won't be accurate. That is what I am worried about. People are not taking several things into account that influence the results while arriving at conclusions. As a person from the field of science, I am not  convinced by these studies.

As a person belonging to several fields, I try my best not to mix up things,  to keep my aesthetic observations far away from my analysis based on reasoning and critical thinking,  to draw lines in my mind between various factors influencing my decisions and conclusions, to write in different ways to make different people understand science. And it is quite a circus - all the while subjecting my mind to this unlimited torture but in the end all this is worth trying to get things right. It is important for people in science to do things in the right way so that they don't confuse the laymen with contradicting results like it is happening in recent times.

These lectures by Dr. Ramachandran might help you in understanding my words:

http://kkartlab.in/video/aesthetic-universals-and-the-neurology-of-...

http://kkartlab.in/video/40-40-vision-lecture-neurology-and-the-pas...

There are articles in the group " Research" here on Art Lab which deal with the same subject and might help you.

Hello, Is it correct to address you as Dr. Challa?

I must say I am am so pleased to read your very multi-disciplinary thoughts on the subject and also must reveal my bias to what I think is a very casual entry into a scientific "measurement" of aesthetics. I did not think it was for me to admit as such at first, and, not having read the full study; but I must agree on the surface that at least to an objective writer such as myself strictly the methodology alone of tracking heart rate, skin conductance, "emotional variance," spatial and temporal resolution using data gloves, etc. alone, could not, or would not fully define a fully scientific definition of aesthetics as you so brilliantly point out.

Being new to the field, I have spent the last couple of years reading Kant, Greenburg, Danto and others. All about the "End of Art," the "death of beauty" or at least a complete questioning of the concept of beauty as you point out. Quite a circus as you well say. While it is an interesting period to be examining all of the philosophical, critical and scientific concepts at play, I doubt beauty or art is dead and I'm glad to hear the experts are at work trying to get things right!  I found your blog post to be fascinating and would love to know when it is published so I may cite it. I don't know if this discussion is public but I think some of what you say may at first alienate some artists, but perhaps at first that is what is necessary to get their attention. I will be writing frequently on these subjects and would certainly understand if you are busy but would be very happy if you or someone else in your capacity would read over what I'm thinking before I publish. I really am excited about the concept of applied aesthetics!

Best regards,

Mark

Mark, you an call me Krishna. You can quote my blog. People these days are giving references to online blogs too. Time permitted, I will try to fine tune my blog. Yes, I would like to read your articles. Different people will have different ways of thinking and taking all these thoughts into consideration would give you a full view of anything. Have you watched Dr. Ramachandran's videos? And the articles in the group research?

Krishna, thanks. I just wasn't sure when you said the the blog post may not have been published. It will be a while before I've finished writing. I'm just now getting to the videos and the research group, a wealth of information I'm sure. Yes, a broader perspective into aesthetics from what I've been reading would be a welcome change of pace.

I came across an interesting article that says science is more beautiful than art! You can read it here: ( To be frank, I fully agree with the author! ) : http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2012/sep/1...

Hi Mark !

If you read german or french you can find answers to your reflexion in f.ex. the book of Thomas Göbel "Die Quellen der Kunst, lebendige Sinne und Phantasie, als Schlüssel zur Architektur" or in french: "Vie sensorielle et imagination, Source de l'Art - Les 12 sens de l'homme". I don't know if this book was translated in english.

Best.

K-soul

K-soul

Sounds interesting, however I don't speak either German 0r French, so I would have to try and find an English translation. I will look through one of the libraries!


Best regards,

Mark

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