Installation art is one of the most important and provocative developments in the visual arts during the last half century and has become a key focus of artists and of contemporary museums. It is also seen as particularly challenging or even disliked by many viewers, and-due to its unique in situ, immersive setting-is equally regarded as difficult or even beyond the grasp of present methods in empirical aesthetic psychology. In this paper, we introduce an exploratory study with installation art, utilizing (...) a collection of techniques to capture the eclectic, the embodied, and often the emotionally-charged viewing experience. We present results from an investigation of two pieces, both part of Olafur Eliasson's exhibition "Baroque, Baroque" held at the Belvedere museum in Vienna. These were assessed by administered pre- and post-viewing questionnaires focusing on emotion, meaning-making, and appraisals, in tandem with mobile eye tracking to consider viewers' attention to both installed artworks and/or the museum environment. The data showed differences in participants' emotional states, appraisals, and visual exploration, which together paint a picture of the aesthetic reactions to the works. These differences also showed how viewers' appraisal strategies, meaning making, and physical actions facilitated relatively more or less deep engagement with, and enjoyment of, the art pieces. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for museum studies, art education, and theory in empirical aesthetics. (shrink)
BackgroundDespite severe cognitive dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease, aesthetic preferences in AD patients seem to retain some stability over time, similarly to healthy controls. However, the underlying mechanisms of aesthetic preference stability in AD remain unclear. We therefore aimed to study the role of emotional valence of stimuli for stability of aesthetic preferences in patients with AD compared to cognitively unimpaired elderly adults.MethodsFifteen AD patients score 12–26) without visual impairment and/or psychiatric disorder, as well as 15 healthy controls without cognitive impairment (...) matched in age, sex, art interest and highest level of education were included in this study. All participants were asked to rank-order eight artworks per stimulus category according to their preference twice with a 2-week span in-between. Based on these two rankings a preference change score was calculated. In order to assess explicit recognition memory of the artworks in the second testing session, four artworks of each stimulus category used in the preference ranking task were presented together with a content-matched distractor artwork painted by the same artist. Participants had to indicate which of the stimuli they had seen 2 weeks previously.ResultsAD patients [MMSE = 18.9 ± 3.6; Age = 85.4 ± 6.9; 33.3% male] had no explicit recognition memory of the artworks, whereas healthy controls [MMSE = 27.7 ± 1.4; Age = 84.3 ± 6.7; 33.3% male] correctly recognized 85% of stimuli after 2 weeks. AD patients had equally stable preferences compared to the control group for negative artworks, but less stable preferences for positive and neutral images.ConclusionEven in cognitively impaired AD patients, aesthetic preference for negatively-valenced artworks remains relatively stable. Our study provides novel evidence that AD patients may have a somewhat preserved implicit valence system for negative compared to neutral or positive visual information, especially in the domain of aesthetics. However, more studies need to further uncover the details of the underlying neurocognitive mechanisms of preference stability in pathological aging. (shrink)
Art can be experienced in numerous ways, ranging from sensory pleasure to elaborated ways of finding meaning (Leder et al. 2004). However, rather ignored by Bullot & Reber (B&R), in empirical aesthetics several lines of research have studied how knowledge of artistic style, descriptive and elaborate information, expertise, and context all affect aesthetic experiences from art. Limiting aesthetics to rather rare experiences unnecessarily narrows the scope of a science of art.
Digital images taken by mobile phones are the most frequent class of images created today. Due to their omnipresence and the many ways they are encountered, they require a specific focus in research. However, to date, there is no systematic compilation of the various factors that may determine our evaluations of such images, and thus no explanation of how users select and identify relatively “better” or “worse” photos. Here, we propose a theoretical taxonomy of factors influencing the aesthetic appeal of (...) mobile phone photographs. Beyond addressing relatively basic/universal image characteristics, perhaps more related to fast perceptual processing of an image, we also consider factors involved in the slower re-appraisal or deepened aesthetic appreciation of an image. We span this taxonomy across specific types of picture genres commonly taken—portraits of other people, selfies, scenes and food. We also discuss the variety of goals, uses, and contextual aspects of users of mobile phone photography. As a working hypothesis, we propose that two main decisions are often made with mobile phone photographs: Users assess images at a first glance—by swiping through a stack of images—focusing on visual aspects that might be decisive to classify them from “low quality” to “acceptable” to, in rare cases, “an exceptionally beautiful picture.” Users make more deliberate decisions regarding one’s “favorite” picture or the desire to preserve or share a picture with others, which are presumably tied to aspects such as content, framing, but also culture or personality, which have largely been overlooked in empirical research on perception of photographs. In sum, the present review provides an overview of current focal areas and gaps in research and offers a working foundation for upcoming research on the perception of mobile phone photographs as well as future developments in the fields of image recording and sharing technology. (shrink)