Fractal-Scaling Properties as Aesthetic Primitives in Vision and Touch

Axiomathes 32 (5):869-888 (2022)
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Abstract

Natural forms, often characterized by irregularity and roughness, have a unique complexity that exhibit self-similarity across different spatial scales or levels of magnification. Our visual system is remarkably efficient in the processing of natural scenes and tuned to the multi-scale, fractal-like properties they possess. The fractal-like scaling characteristics are ubiquitous in many physical and biological domains, with recent research also highlighting their importance in aesthetic perception, particularly in the visual and, to some extent, auditory modalities. Given the multitude of fractal-like scaling manifestations, we explore potential commonalities in the way they might affect aesthetic preference within and across different physical and sensory domains. We use a range of visual and tactile stimuli to explore the equivalence of fractal-scaling effects on aesthetic preferences within and across visual and tactile modalities. Our results suggest that, despite some superficial differences, the underlying dimensional structure mediating the preference across the two domains is remarkably similar. The qualitative nature of this dimensional structure as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.

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