Online Program

Wednesday 24 August

12:00 Lunch & Registration

13:00-13:15 Opening ceremony

13:15-14:30 Symposium – Realities of Geometries

Martin Skrodzki

+ 3D printing the geometry of sound

In his 1802 book “Acoustics”, Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni describes how to visualize different vibration modes using sand, a metal plate, and a violin bow. His tours and demonstrations throughout Europe popularized the method such that the arising patterns were subsequently called “Chladni Figures”. These figures originate by the violin bow striking the metal plate and causing it to oscillate. Thereby, the sand is bouncing up and down, settling only in those places where the vibration modes cancel each other out. To put it differently, the sand is resting at those places where no sound can be heard. The patterns therefore visualize the “blind spots” of the sound. The underlying physical and mathematical formulations of Chladni’s figures can be lifted to three-dimensional space. This can tell, e.g., architects of concert halls, where certain sound frequencies cannot be heard, which would make for a less enjoyable experience of a symphony. Visualization of these three-dimensional geometries is not as easy as in Chladni’s original two-dimensional setup. Physical experiments are hard to design and execute. Here, computer graphics and 3D printing techniques come in to help. In the talk, we review the underlying physical and mathematical formulations of Chladni’s figures. We will discuss how they span a plethora of geometries in three-dimensional space as well as the difficulties of visualizing them. Finally, we provide examples for 3D prints of the structures, giving these virtual geometry their own sense of reality and allowing a whole new level of exploration of three-dimensional sound patterns.

Teresa Hunyadi and Dave Murray-Rust.

+ Material Deformations of Penrose Tiling

Penrose tilings are ways to completely cover an infinite plane with perfectly fitting shapes, in a pattern that never repeats – they have moments of local symmetry, where it may look like they are regular and ordered, but on a larger scale, this order is always disrupted. Adding deformations to the tiles creates a rich, generative space for artistic exploration leading to several approaches to form, between digital and physical generation, hand working and machine control. As two practitioners from different backgrounds – sculpture and computer science – we collaborate on a common ground: an interest in the growth of pattern and shape making. In this talk we share our journey and explorations starting with Penrose Tiling. Our interest is in what happens when bringing this abstract mathematical pattern into the physical world. We start with a simple generation of the tiling, and then explore a set of deformations that can create a continuously variable space of patterns. This creates an interplay between the materials, the tools applied and the underlying geometry, allowing different relations to emerge between pattern, perception and space.

Rinus Roelofs

+ Folding polyhedra inspired by Albrecht Dürer

Visualization of mathematical ideas has always been an important part of mathematics. It is interesting to see that also some artists have developed new visualization tools for mathematics. In 1525 Albrecht Dürer published his book “Unterweissung der Messung mit dem Zirckel und Richtscheyt”. In the fourth part of this book we can find several plans of regular and semi-regular polyhedra. It is, as far as we know, the first time plans of polyhedra were published. By presenting both the unfolded and the folded version of the Platonic solids, as two drawings next to each other, Albrecht Dürer visualized the relation between the 2D folding plan and the 3D final model of a polyhedron. In this way Dürer describes the process of folding these polyhedra, which he also explained in the accompanied text in the book. A process which we nowadays illustrate using animation. The book is meant to be a source of knowledge and inspiration for painters, sculptors and craftsman. Although it is published about 5 centuries ago, it still is a very rich and interesting source of inspiration. Based on Albrecht Dürer’s publications I started to make animations of folding polyhedra, both as a visualization of mathematics and as an art project to show the beauty of the mathematics of polyhedra.

Anna Maria Hartkopf and Johanna Michaels.

+ A VR journey through the geometry of space

The history of geometry is deeply connected with our perception of physical space. After Euclid’s “Elements” it became common belief that geometry is the mathematical description of the space around us. However, the impact between perception of space and understanding of geometry was not unidirectional – physical theories were strongly influenced by the prevalent, and for a long time unique, Euclidean foundation of geometry. When Newton distinguished rest and uniform motion from acceleration he chose a Euclidean description of space. In highlighting them as the force-free state of a physical object he even made this description absolute. The success of Newton’s mechanics further cemented this picture as a fact of pure intuition. However, in the 19th century some doubt emerged: The independence of the parallel postulate was discovered, non-Euclidean geometries were born and the primacy of Euclid was questioned. Hilbert and Riemann further developed geometry from a mere description of physical space to a theory of abstract relations. Suddenly, the geometry of space was no longer an intuitive fact but an open empirical question. One physicist who tried to answer this was Einstein. He had the idea that every motion – even acceleration – is relative. This simple thought led him to his General Theory of Relativity where gravity is no longer a force but a geometric property of space. In our talk, we will discuss the relation between geometry, space and our perception. We developed a Virtual Reality experience where the user gets a visual impression of non- Euclidean geometries and is encouraged to question their everyday perception of space, just as Einstein did. After all, our experience is the first and most natural access to our understanding of the world and therefore to science.

14:45-15:30 Tutorial

Anne-Sofie Maerten and Derya Soydaner.

+ Art and machines: A tutorial on AI generated art

Ever wondered how DALL-E creates mesmerizing images or how you can turn your vacation photo into a Van Gogh painting? In this tutorial we will discuss the recent trends on AI generated art. First, we will give a quick introduction on basic concepts in deep learning. Then, we will introduce the most relevant deep neural network architectures for vision science (including CNNs, GANs and Transformers). We will present a variety of applications for each of these models to show how they can create artificial art. We will discuss questions such as “does artificial art have the same qualities as human-made art” or “is it necessary to be a human artist to create an artwork”? What is the future of art? The goal of this tutorial is to provide practical guidelines for this new era on generative art and have a meaningful discussion on the philosophy of art and science.

15:30-16:30 Break (possibly practical session about tutorial)

16:30-18:30 Symposium – How are the arts related to transformations in our everyday life? How can a visual science of art capture this impact? An overview of the ARTIS project.

Joerg Fingerhut, Matthew Pelowski and Eftychia Stamkou.

+ Art and Transformation: An embodied, enactive theory of the arts and interpretation of recent findings.

In this talk, we will provide an introduction to the research themes presented in this symposium within the larger conceptual scheme of the EU-H2020 project ARTIS (Art and Research on Transformations of Individuals and Societies). The focus will be on how cultural artifacts and artworks bring forth models of who we are and what kind of society we want to live in (Fingerhut, 2021). Art might occupy a central role in this because successful artworks challenge our world views and provide novel forms of perceptual, emotional, and cognitive access to existing societal challenges. Art transforms us in a multitude of ways, by changing our attitudes and behavior and by providing alternative realities. We argue that we need an embodied, enactive understanding of art as a cultural artifact to capture this power of art in a systematical theoretical approach. Such a theory should be embedded in the cognitive sciences and the humanities alike. This talk focuses on the psychological processes and processing stages of art engagement (Pelowski et al., 2017), yet also briefly explores the ways successful artists deviate from existing norms (Stamkou et al., 2018). This will serve as a general introduction also to the forthcoming talks, with the idea that we will return to this general mandate and line of argument throughout the forthcoming presentations.

Stephanie Miller, Joerg Fingerhut and Matthew Pelowski.

+ What are the shared ways we might respond to art? Network Modeling and Latent Class Analysis of both big and small “arts engagements” in gallery and across multiple facets of everyday life

A constant argument throughout the history of humans’ interactions with art is that we may have certain reactions that are both notable and perhaps unique. Standing in awe at a painting, gripped with thrill, anger, mesmerized by beauty, finding oneself transformed—these reactions stand as both a constant basis for the lasting interest in the arts from the humanities and science. Concomitant with the realization that these may often not occur, they are also key for understanding and applying art to societal and individual topics. However, precisely because of the wide range of factors in arts engagement, empirical investigations of the scope and range of experiences are scarce, leaving us without a firm understanding of what kinds of reactions we might actually have, how these are explained at basic psychological levels, and how reactions might connect or even be shared across individuals and artworks. We present evidence from two projects quantifying and comparing ways of experiencing art. These involved a large sample of participants’ (N = 1000+) recollections of their most profound art experiences, using qualitative reports and a scale-based list of cognitive-affective terms selected based on theoretical models of arts experiences (VIMAP, Pelowski et al., 2017). Different participants also reported experiences with specific artworks in the museum. Although we employed and/or revealed a wide range of media/contexts, network modeling and latent class analyses of the felt experiences suggested a small variety of responses, largely similar for both paradigms and also matching the VIMAP model, suggesting a compelling basis for future application and research.

Corinna Kühnapfel, Joerg Fingerhut and Matthew Pelowski.

+ How do we move in front of art? Capturing, quantifying, and linking movement patterns, eye- tracking, emotion, and evaluations in an ecologically-valid gallery setting

Context and embodiment are increasingly recognized as central components of how art is experienced. This is especially true for aspects such as physical movement and presence in front of art, which are often argued to be features that make real-life engagements most special and unique. However, in both laboratory and in ecologically valid studies in the gallery, little attention has actually been paid to the way in which viewers move or engage with artworks. Less has been done to consider the interaction between movement—where we stand, how we approach, viewing distances—and how we feel or appraise art. Even less has been done to address whether there might be basic global patterns of moving that could be shared across participants and come to define a key aspect of art engagements. We present the results from a new paradigm for tracking viewer body movement that set out to tackle these questions. This employed a mock gallery room with one abstract artwork combined with a bespoke method of tracking movement patterns via infrared camera. This was further combined with mobile eye-tracking to simultaneously assess patterns of looking, and self-report questionnaire focusing on art appraisals, cognitive-/emotional-experience, and subjective awareness of one’s physical encounter. The results indeed suggest compelling evidence for relations between movement dynamics and art experience. Even more, by using new methods distilled from animal movement studies to differentiate global movement trajectories, we provide evidence for shared varieties of physical engagement patterns that may provide a template for future ecologically valid arts research.

Rohan Dunham, Gerben Van Kleef and Eftychia Stamkou.

+ Artists’ Motives for Creating Art and Their Impact on Social Perceptions and Aesthetic Judgements

Why do artists create art? Do different motives for creating art lead to different impacts on the viewer? The reasons why artists (should) make art have fiercely been debated among cultural policy advisers, politicians, and art critics, but there is little empirical investigation so far of the actual motivations. During this talk, PhD candidate Rohan Dunham will present research conducted together with Gerben van Kleef and Eftychia Stamkou that sets out to examine these questions. In the first study, we conducted semi-structured interviews with professional artists to identify motives for creating art. This culminated in the discovery of 24 motives which we grouped in a 2×2 motivational taxonomy based on two dimensions: internal versus external motives and self-focused versus other-focused motives. Next, we set out to develop a method to experimentally manipulate motives along the dimensions of our taxonomy. We created vignettes that resembled excerpts taken from interviews with professional artists, each reflecting very different motives for creating art. Lastly, we conducted an empirical study in which we aimed to establish how knowledge of an artist’s motives for creating art would affect 1) social perceptions of the artist, and 2) evaluations of their artwork. Our findings revealed that people’s perceptions of the artist and their work are indeed impacted by information on the artist’s motives for creating art.

Mackenzie Trupp, Giacomo Bignardi, Eva Specker, Ed Vessel and Matthew Pelowski

+ Who Benefits from Art Viewing and How: The role of Pleasure, Meaningfulness, and Trait Aesthetic Responsiveness in Online Computer-based Art Interventions for Well-being

When experienced in-person, engagement with art has been associated—in a growing body of evidence—with positive outcomes in well-being and mental health. Today, on the other hand, art viewing, cultural engagement, and even ‘trips’ to art museums can take place in several modalities via internet-enabled computers, smartphones, and even virtual reality. In a recent study (Trupp et al, 2021), our author team presented some of the first evidence that online art interventions, using an interactive art exhibition from Google Arts and Culture featuring waterlily paintings from Monet delivered through the internet, viewed in individuals’ homes, could lead to well-being impacts. In the present project, we replicated our past findings, confirming the potential for art online to be a tool to support well-being by improving levels of negative mood and anxiety, while providing stronger evidence through a more rigorous design and pre-registered analysis plan. Second, we find trait-level aesthetic responsiveness to be a predictor of well-being effects, whereas those who are more responsive to art, poetry, and music can benefit more from this online art intervention. Lastly, this effect is mediated by subjective experience factors; pleasure and meaningfulness. We further discuss the importance of the participants’ experience during art interventions and the differential influence of each subjective experience factor on each well-being outcome.

Yagmur Ozbay, Suzanne Oosterwijk and Eftychia Stamkou.

+ Art Engagement on Interpersonal Outcomes: Does visual art facilitate social-cognitive abilities?

Art, as well as discussions about its purpose, has been central to human experience and has shaped research in various disciplines. Work in psychology and adjacent disciplines have tried to bring together the pieces of the puzzling experience of art, including a better understanding of the myriad emotions and unique cognitive processes it evokes in individuals. Thanks to this research we have gained valuable insight into how we come to appreciate art and ways in which art comes to transform the individual experience. Importantly, the transformative power of art can also move beyond intra-personal processes and individual experience to the discussion of how art can transform inter-personal processes, interactions, and relationships. In this presentation, we discuss an extension from compelling preliminary evidence that connected reading fiction with a range of positive social outcomes such as increased empathy, theory of mind, and prosocial behavior (Dodell-Feder & Tamir, 2018; Mumper & Gerrig, 2017), and raising the question—Does this effect generalize to visual art? Based on this earlier work, we present recent findings tackling this question, through experimental manipulations of art engagement, considering the effects of visual art engagement on interpersonal outcomes such as social-cognitive abilities and prosocial behavior. While tackling this main empirical question, we also discuss the role of different components of art experience, such as features of the artwork (e.g., content), types of engagement (e.g., reflective), and individual differences (e.g., aesthetic responsiveness), to grasp under which conditions this effect occurs.

19:00 Reception

Thursday 25 August

9:00-10:30 Talk session I – Spaces and Senses

Christina Krumpholz, Cliodhna Quigley, Karsan Ameen, Leonida Fusani, Christoph Reuter and Helmut Leder.

+ Audiovisual interaction and integration of human attractiveness

When humans interact in social settings, they typically encounter vocal and facial cues. Indeed, multisensory processing of voice and face relies on their synchronous presentation. Psychological research has examined how facial and vocal cues influence judgements of attractiveness and sexual dimorphism, health, and age. However, few studies have investigated the interaction of vocal and facial cues under naturalistic conditions using dynamic, ecologically valid stimuli. Here, we used combinations of short audio tracks with or without videos of females speaking full sentences (Vienna Talking Faces database) and manipulated voice pitch to investigate cross-modal voice influences on facial attractiveness and related ratings. 106 male participants rated attractiveness, femininity, age, and health of synchronized audio-video recordings or voices only, with either original or modified voice pitch, in a within-subject design. We expected audio stimuli with increased pitch to be rated as more attractive, feminine, healthier, and younger. If auditory judgements cross-modally influence judgements of facial attributes, we additionally expected the voice manipulation to affect ratings of audio-visual stimuli. Analyses revealed higher pitched voices to be perceived as more feminine and younger, but not more attractive or healthier. When coupled with corresponding video recordings, increased pitch resulted in lowered age estimations, but did not significantly influence attractiveness, femininity, or health. This suggests our manipulation of voice pitch has an impact on femininity and age judgements, but does not measurably influence vocal and facial attractiveness in naturalistic conditions. Though this study addresses whether information from one modality can influence another, it does not investigate whether and how different modalities are integrated in the attractiveness judgement of a person. Therefore, we will also present preliminary findings on audiovisual integration which explore how information from voice and face are integrated when judging a person’s overall attractiveness.

David Phillips

+ Does Visual Music Have a Future?

For centuries Western experimenters have sought visual stimuli with the emotional immediacy of music, but without sound. Most early experiments presupposed a correspondence, noted by Isaac Newton, between the seven colours in the spectrum, and the harmonic scale. Celebrated figures include the Abbé Castel in 18th century France, and Thomas Wilfred in 20th century Yale. Amongst 20th century artists the Lithuanian M.K.Ciurlionis attempted direct translations of musical developments into painting. Though sometimes beautiful, none of the results convinced most commentators. The supposed correspondences between colour and harmony fail in the face of the differences in both the physics and the perception of light and sound. Nor can visual art rival the visceral immediacy that music provides, through its intimate, ancient relationship to the voice and to dance. We cannot replay in our heads the development of visual forms, in the way that we can recall music, complete with emotional effect. 3D computer animation cannot avoid those restrictions, but offers new possibilities, rivalling for example the beauty in nature of murmurations of flocking starlings. Increasingly available so-called procedural techniques offer much of the power of programming for animation, usually until now only possible for professionals, to artists lacking coding skills. Procedural techniques extend the often manual on-screen construction of graphic, wireframe-based animations, to allow an unprecedented range of effects. Animators will be able more readily to explore devices that have often mysteriously enhanced aesthetic effect in music, painting and poetry, by confusing our usual perceptual strategies for making sense of the world, through complexity, or forms that resist segmentation. Evoked movement and effects of light provide expressive possibilities that music cannot offer. But are we entering a new world of expressive possibilities, or just a plethora of striking screen-savers?

Joe Geigel

+ Theatre in the Metaverse: Reflections onthe Realities of Distributed Performance

One of the roles of theatre is to transport one from the physical locality of an auditorium into a new reality being played out on the stage. Theatre is also, by its very nature, a collaborative art; an active and live interplay between actors and audience. In recent years, the ability to meet in a shared physical space for such interplay has been restricted due to a global pandemic and we have been forced to explore alternative options: many involving the creation of theatre in a distributed manner, using digital technologies as a presentation stage and the Internet as a communication backbone. In this talk, we ponder the questions: Is it possible to create a shared experience where each participant feels as if they play an active part in the collaborative process even though they may be in different physical spaces? What it is that makes live theatre such a unique experience and can one recreate that feeling in a distributed scenario even though it is experienced from different physical locales? Using examples from works produced by the author over the past two decades, this talk explores these questions in the context of liveness, perspective, and social presence and considers digital platforms ranging from Zoom Theatre, to Interplays, to theatre performed in immersive VR worlds.

Qasim Zaidi, Akihito Maruya, Crystal Guo and Erin Koch.

+ Oblique Experiences

We demonstrate and analyze how experiencing pictures such as Holbein portraits and Pearlstein figures from an oblique viewpoint is different than from a frontal view. These pictures like many photographs, paintings and drawings rely on perspective cues to convey the depth dimension, which defines volumes, shapes, sizes and poses by segmenting objects and retaining object unity across occlusions. Photos and pictures would be much less effective at conveying scenes if they worked only for a viewpoint that was identical to the “camera” position. When the oblique viewing angle is large, the projected retinal image is quite different and distorts sizes and shapes in systematic ways. The reasons for the continuing realities despite oblique viewpoints are partly topological and geometrical, and partly due to the mental geometry that the visual system has evolved to make veridical inferences from real scenes. By using simple scenes consisting of rectangular parallelepipeds lying centered on the ground, or inclined or floating above the ground and placed off-center, we have shown that psychophysical judgments of pose, size and aspect ratio can be explained by mental geometry that uses the optimal back-transform from orientations and extents in retinal images to physical 3-D poses and sizes. Among other effects, the mental geometry explains why perceived scenes rotate towards the observer for oblique viewpoints. We show that this mental geometry is quite complex because it involves picking the correct back-transform for object inclination and viewing angle. Poincare stated that there is a group structure across perspective views of the same scene that links the retinal images, and Whitney, Koenderink & van Doorn, Tsao & Tsao have shown topological equivalents between the structure of images and the structure of 3-D scenes. We apply these mathematical results to understand why mental geometry can correct certain distortions and illusions but not others.

Jan Koenderink and Andrea van Doorn.

+ Tafereel

“Tafereel” is a Dutch word that has a complex meaning involving aspects of “scene,” “depiction” and “stage. “It is formally at least partly captured by scenography, which maps the infinite frustum of visual space on a finite cuboid. As the box depth is set to zero one obtains a perspective rendering. The constructivist El Lissitzky proposed an intriguing geometrical account, involving pan-geometry and imaginary numbers. Although this account is technically faulty and ambiguous, the core intuitions are very much to the point. We present a formal interpretation of these constructivist notions, so as to have them make sense. It is of considerable interest in optical display design.

10:30-11:00 Coffee break

11:00-12:30 Symposium – Unexpected realities: how uncertainty and imperfection influence perception and interpretation in digital visual studies

Dejan Grba

+ Poetic Contingencies: Uncertaintyand Imperfection in AI Art

From a small and largely obscure community of pioneering artists who experimented with artificial intelligence (AI) in the 1970s, AI art has expanded, gained visibility, and attained socio-cultural relevance since the second half of the 2010s. With its topics, methodologies, presentational formats, and implications closely related to AI research and business, AI art is affected by cognitive inadequacies, conceptual challenges, conflicted paradigms, discursive issues, ethical, and socio-political problems of AI science and industry. This presentation aims to diversify the existing critical discourse of AI by exploring the roles of uncertainty and imperfection in shaping the expressive features, cultural identity, and political impact of contemporary AI art. The discussion covers the mainstream, experimental, and tactical areas of AI art, focusing on the works that exemplify poetic complexity and manifest the ambiguities indicative of a broader milieu of contemporary art, culture, economy, and society. We are interested in uncertainty and imperfection both as the intentionally introduced methodological or aesthetic factors, and as the unintended generators of unforeseen, often undesirable, sometimes comical, but always epistemically valuable outcomes. Ranging from cogent and serendipitous to inept and exploitative, these contingencies are important for both the creative processes and cultural positioning of AI art. In a wider perspective of the AI art’s systemic entanglement with pervasive digital technologies and socio-economic trends, the critical consideration of its unexpected realities within proper contextual frameworks offers distinctive insights into our AI-influenced world.

Valentine Bernasconi.

+ Imperfect tools – When uncertainties of automated recognition reveal pictorial peculiarities

In recent years, improvements in computer vision and machine learning techniques offered new perspectives on body pose recognition. The creation of these models rely on large training datasets composed of real images, photographs usually gathered from online image hosting services, and depicting a certain view of a modern western life. In parallel, the digitization of numerous collections of artworks and their public availability allows innovative types of research within the field of digital humanities and fosters new research possibilities with respect to the technologies at our disposal. With the application of automated body pose recognition models, it is possible to characterize pictorial body gestures on large corpuses and open the field to new experiments, such as their geometrical analysis and similarity considerations, or the creation of browsing tools based on body gestures. However, the accuracy of these models decrease when confronted with the pictorial realism and impact on the results of the research. The talk intends to present different phases of a project on hand gestures in the Italian Early Modern time and the impact of various imperfections induced by automated pose recognition and other computational approaches on the results. Far from being banal, these imperfections can potentially teach us more on the differences between real images and artworks and the fundamental characteristics of paintings. Through these reflections from a series of examples, the presentation aims to expose questions about methodological aspects of projects conducted within the field of digital art history; how to address the biases induced by technology, between what remains from these detections and what is left behind; how the acknowledgement of imperfections can improve computer vision processes as well as the understanding of pictorial representations; and whether unexpected results can provide new perspectives on art-historical interpretations and practices.

Nanne van Noord

+ What is the right task?

Modelling relies on abstraction, extracting general patterns and concepts. When designing Machine learning models choosing the task to perform is a crucial part of the design process, in this sense choosing a task is a form of abstraction. Classification, for instance, restricts the ‘world’ to a finite set of classes – if it is not a labelled class in the dataset it does not exist. Therefore, the choice of task – to a large extent – also determines the types of errors that will be made and the insights that can be extracted. For interpretative and analytical practices of visual art, it seems counter-intuitive to be constrained to a single task, instead the artworks (i.e., the data) should guide the analysis. In Multi-Task Learning (MTL) models are designed to perform multiple tasks in parallel, allowing for synergetic exchange between tasks and greater generalisation. While MTL does not resolve the burden of a priori choosing the tasks, it does offer potential for greater serendipity and flexibility. In this talk I will discuss MTL’s potential for visual art and hopefully spark a discussion on what the right tasks are for analysing visual art.

Robin Champenois

+ Happy Accidents of the Artificial Unconscious

First developed to analyze very large amounts of data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has recently got more attention for its creative applications, and its ability to generate complex images, sounds, or texts. On that matter, it appears that artists and engineers do not share the same vision of AI. While researchers are often looking for ways to imitate existing human creation, artists do what they have already been doing for centuries with previous technical advances: they tweak it to their needs, and use it as a medium to extend their own expressiveness. Yet, AI may bring something entirely new, in that it may “simply” be a tool, but it is a tool with a strong personality, that we need to engage a dialogue with. Indeed, as complex learning machines, the neural networks do not behave as logical rational processes; their structure and skills look more like our intuitive and fast analyzing skills. A kind of Artificial Unconscious, with elaborate biases, that reflect ours. Creating new pieces with AI therefore looks like an exchange, a dialogue, to find “happy accidents”, get inspiration, and explore open ideas out of our own way of thinking. It is a demanding process, that requires the creator to carefully listen to the machine’s poetry, and find in its many glitches a meaningful feature, a surprising idea, to build upon. In this talk, I will present my research and artistic practice, and explore the unreasonable fantasies of the machine – and of its creators.

Eva Cetinić and Darío Negueruela del Castillo.

+ The Doors of Multimodal Perspectives: Deep Learning and the Kaleidoscopic Embeddings of Culture

Transforming information and ideas between and within different representational modes (text, image, sound, etc.) is a fundamental concept of human communication, and a particularly crucial one for the interpretative and creative processes within art. Recently this notion of multimodal transformation became computationally operationalized on a meaningful and convincing level. The field of multimodal machine learning significantly advanced in recent years with the introduction of deep learning-based large pre-trained models. Such models made it possible to computationally generate semantically aligned textual descriptions of images, or vice versa, to render images corresponding to textual inputs. However, “semantic alignment” is a fuzzy concept and transforming data inputs from one modality to another is not a one solution task. Models employed for multimodal transformation tasks can be more or less accurate in relation to specific metrics, but they essentially include many limitations. For example, models used for generating images from text are usually trained on immense datasets that incorporate various biases, often integrating dominant societal perspectives and selective cultural memories. Despite seemingly reproducing the known problem of cultural framing, their directive biases are inextricable of their intentionality as cultural objects, and can constitute an undeniable cognitive scaffolding, affording useful perspectival shifts and new hybrid possibilities in research and artistic production. By encoding in a hyper-dimensional parametric space numerous associations which exist between various data items, those models become epitomes of our collective expressions, embedded in a specific cultural paradigm, and can therefore serve as cultural magnifying glasses that can augment our study of art and culture.

12:30-14:15 Coffee break Poster session

14:15-16:15 Artistic Keynotes

Nim Goede

+ To be announced

To be anouced

Floris Schonfeld

+ To be announced

To be anouced

Tine Melzer.

+ Shifting Realities

Bio: Tine Melzer is an artist, philosopher of language and author. She studied Fine Arts and Philosophy in Amsterdam and received her PhD in England, published as Taxidermy for Language-Animals (2016 / 2020). She works as a lecturer at European art schools and universities, currently teaching at the Bern University of the Arts HKB. She conducts transdisciplinary research on aspect change in image, text and poetics.
Aspect change means seeing something as something else: it influences our minds, our linguistic practices, and our worldviews. Melzer’s current research project ‘Atlas of Aspect Change’ reflects shifting meanings viewed through the prism of language and intersubjective exchange. It elicits phenomena of perspective and reveals how words and images influence each other. It activates understanding of complex and ambiguous situations and shows how to stimulate and refine interdisciplinary discourse.

16:15-17:00 Coffee break Poster session

17:00-18:30 Talk session II – Perception and Production

Pierre Lelièvre and Peter Neri.

+ Perceptual Exploration of Latent Space for Pictorial Composition

Pictorial composition (the structural organization of graphical elements) is typically characterized by qualitative rules and heuristics; although informative, these tools do not support quantitative measures of global similarity/interaction of its constituent elements. The sequential non-stationary nature of the compositional process, together with the complex and evolving definition of its underlying functional units, coalesce into a perceptual phenomenon that cannot be readily modeled through pixel-based approaches such as CNNs. We adopt a different strategy, constructed around a parametric definition of stroke execution and two hierarchically nested RNN-VAE, enabling our network to tackle art material by aligning its behavior to the artistic gesture. More specifically, this network architecture extracts compositional regularities by compressing inputs to a reduced number of independent dimensions; within this framework, visual stimuli project to a continuous space that permits quantitative investigation of relevant perceptual mechanisms. Our neural network is trained on >5k abstract vectorial compositions created by the first author over years of compositional efforts. Although this dataset is large for a single artist, its scale remains relatively small for training large networks. We address this issue by introducing constraints that support a compact representation that is both cohesive and expressive. We then study the smoothness and continuity of the resulting latent space by measuring the perceptual scale of sample similarities generated by human participants. To avoid the curse of dimensionality, we restricted exploration to circular slices of a hypersphere by extending MLDS methods to cyclic `physical’ spaces. Our approach serves to validate a novel modeling framework for pictorial composition, alongside psychophysical tools for measuring the quality of its representation and associated metrics. The resulting algorithm enables artists to explore the dynamic interaction of graphical elements in accordance not only with their own compositional regularities, but also with the perceptual regularities intrinsic to those who view their art.

Rebecca Chamberlain, Margot Dehove, Jan Makuni, Takumi Tanaka, Tomohiro Ishizu, Corinna Kühnapfel, Helmet Leder and Matthew Pelowski.

+ Cross-cultural comparison of emotion recognition in abstract drawings

Humans have a finely tuned ability to recognise emotions through the facial expressions and actions of others. However, less is known about how emotions are recognised via more abstract representations such as visual art. This question has received some empirical attention in recent years, with research demonstrating that effective emotion transmission is key to impactful art (Pelowski et al. 2018). Furthermore, some aspects of emotion transmission appear to transcend cultural differences in techniques for artistic representation (Dubal et al. 2014). The current project presents a more thorough exploration of cultural differences in how categories of emotion are depicted and recognised through abstract drawings. Japanese and European non-professional artists were asked to express four categories of emotion (anger, fear, pride and happiness) through simple monochromatic abstract drawings. These drawings were then presented to European and Japanese viewers (n=200) who were asked to recognize the emotion communicated in each drawing. Participants also completed self-report measures of empathy and emotion recognition and a task measuring emotion recognition of Japanese and European facial expressions. It is predicted that participants will be better at recognizing emotions portrayed in the drawings created by individuals from the same culture (an in-group advantage of emotion recognition, Elfenbein and Ambady, 2002). The findings will shed new light on how emotions are derived from visual artworks and whether such a mechanism is universal or culturally conditioned.

Claudia Damiano, Pinaki Gayen, Archi Banerjee, Gobinda Banik, Priyadarshi Patnaik, Dirk B. Walther and Johan Wagemans.

+ Emotion depictions in abstract visual art by artists and non-artists

Visual abstract art, through the manipulation of colour and form, is often used to convey feelings and emotions. How specifically are colours and lines used to express emotion through art? And do artists and non-artists express emotions through art in similar ways? In the current study, 40 artists and 41 non-artists each created abstract colour drawings and line drawings depicting six emotions (i.e., anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and wonder). We then showed each of the drawings one-by-one to a new set of participants (N = 242) and asked them to choose which emotion was being depicted by the drawing in a six-alternative forced choice task. A 2×2 ANOVA with art training (artist vs. non-artist) and emotion (6 emotions) as factors revealed that emotions were more easily interpreted from colour drawings (accuracy = 42.6%) than from line drawings (accuracy = 31.9%, p < 0.001), and drawings created by non-artists (37.9%) were somewhat more easily understood than those by artists (36.6%, p < 0.01). Computational analyses of the colour drawings revealed that artists use fewer colours than non-artists to depict emotions, and that artists’ drawings are more heterogenous within an emotion category than non-artists’ drawings. For line drawings, artists tend to draw darker and thicker lines than non-artists, but feature usage (i.e., length, curvature, orientation) does not differ between artists and non-artists. Overall, our results show that there are systematic differences in colour and line usage when depicting different emotions (e.g., anger is redder and more densely drawn than other emotions, sadness is bluer and contains more vertical lines) and these features are used by humans in the production and appreciation of abstract artworks. Additionally, colour provides more information than black-and-white line drawings, and artists drawings tend to be more unique and minimalistic, making them more difficult to interpret.

Marius H. Raab, Ludwig Hanisch, Jennifer Tesch and Claus-Christian Carbon.

+ The creative potential of digital constraints

The days of 320 by 200 pixel displays and a 16 colour palette might be gone, but even with cutting-edge technology, digital art is shaped by constraints in several dimensions such as resolution, colour space, and in the palette of tools the artist can potentially use. Human-computer-interfaces are a bottleneck and nowhere close to the haptic feedback and multi-sensory subtleties that we can experience when handling a myriad of physical brushes, tools and materials. With so-called Pixel art, there is even a trend where some artists confine themselves to using as few colours (often less than 16) as possible. What was a necessity in the 1980s has become a deliberate artistic choice in the 2020s: less is more. However, there has not been much research on either the producers’ or the recipients’ side to describe and explain this emerging phenomenon. Here, we focus on the beholder and argue that the minimalism of many pixel artworks is a) leaving room for automatic perceptual-filling-in on a subconscious level, is b) open for idiosyncratic associations, and c) taps into bittersweet nostalgic memories for those who have lived through the rise of home computing. We present a study where participants were interacting with genuine Pixel art, with images of paintings down-sampled in resolution and palette, and with high-res displays of paintings, by rating them on various dimensions. By varying viewing distance and display device, we individually determined the spot where the pixelated nature of the stimulus was not discernible anymore, and asked for personal associations and descriptions, to look for filling-in and to uncover nostalgic emotions. We conclude, strictly psychologically, that Pixel art is not just minimalistic for the sake of being minimalistic, but that the constraints of digital art become a combination of features that let an active, creative recipient emerge.

Marina Iosifian and Judith Wolfe.

+ Everyday life vs art: Effects of perceptual context on the mode of object interpretation

Since Marcel Duchamp introduced the concept of the ready-made, everyday objects are often used in contemporary art. At the same time, it is not clear how everyday objects are perceived in art context (e.g., galleries, museums) compared to everyday context. In three studies we investigated how individuals interpret everyday objects in art vs everyday context. In Study 1, participants (N=175) evaluated the strength of associations between congruent (a cup and a spoon) and non-congruent images of objects (a cup and a hammer), as if these images are artworks (in the “art condition) or everyday objects (in the “everyday” condition). The non-congruent images were evaluated as fitting together more in the “art” condition compared to the “everyday” condition, p=.014, d=0.38. In Study 2 (N=155), we investigated the associations between non-congruent images of objects in “art” vs “everyday” condition using the thought listing technique. We found that participants in the “art” condition used symbolic meanings of everyday objects more often compared to participants in the “everyday” condition, p=.042, d=0.82. In Study 3 (N=179), we found that associating non-congruent images of objects in the “art” condition primes cognitive accessibility of symbolic meanings of visual scenes that are not specified as either art or everyday scenes. Overall, the studies showed that everyday objects are interpreted differently in art vs everyday context: remotely associated objects are associated stronger in art context. Moreover, symbolical meanings of objects are more salient in art context.

Friday 26 August

8:45-10:15 Talk session III – Establishing Preference

John Maule, Sérgio Nascimento, Martina Guido, Yasmin Richter, Alice Skelton and Anna Franklin.

+ The development of visual preference for color composition

The perception of beauty in a painting can be strongly influenced by chromatic composition chosen by the artist. It has been shown that adults’ visual preferences for different hue compositions of the same artwork tend to peak for the original artwork, rather than ones in which the hue composition has been altered (Nascimento et al., 2017). This has been found for both occidental and oriental art, viewed across cultures (Nakauchi et al., 2022), and when the paintings have been spatially scrambled to hide their original content (Albers, Nascimento & Gegenfurtner, 2020). It is not known, however, whether the preference for certain hue distributions is due to a “hard-wired” natural preference of the visual system, visual experience with the statistics of the natural world, or learned familiarity with the color distributions typically used in visual art. Infants show some early visual preferences, while other visual preferences develop through experience with the visual and cultural world. We investigated how the preference for color in artworks develops in the early years of life. In a series of experiments, we present infants and young children with paired original and hue-manipulated versions of paintings (color-calibrated from hyperspectral images) and track their eye movements (infants) and explicit choices (older children) as an indication of their visual preference. Our findings suggest that the visual preferences of infants’ aged 4-12 months are not tuned to the hue composition of original artworks, whether spatially scrambled or unscrambled. However, we have tentative evidence that children aged 3-4 years do show preferences for paintings with their original hue composition. These findings suggest there is a developmental trajectory to the preference for hue composition in artworks, suggestive of either slow visual tuning to the natural hue distribution in the environment, or acculturation to typical adult-like preference through experience with visual art.

Alex Swartz, Martina Guido, Alice Skelton, Jenny Bosten, Anna Franklin and John Maule.

+ The contribution of chromatic and spatial scene statistics to aesthetic perception varies with autistic traits in the general population.

Advances in empirical aesthetics have identified relationships between group-level aesthetic preference ratings and some quantifiable characteristics of visual scenes. For example, the balance of color in a scene (Juricevic et al., 2010) and natural fractal content (e.g. Spehar et al., 2003) both influence the experience of aesthetic pleasure and visual discomfort. Despite the overall predictability of group-level ratings, a large amount of inter-observer variance in aesthetic judgements remains unexplained. Autism Spectrum Conditions are associated with differences in sensory perception and cognition (e.g. Simmons et al., 2009), including hypersensitivity and differences in representing local and global features. This project investigates whether autistic traits in the general population can account for some individual differences in aesthetic preference of visual scenes.We gathered preference and naturalness ratings of color-calibrated images depicting natural, urban and mixed scenes. Ratings of images and autistic traits, measured with the Autism Quotient (AQ), were collected via our online image preference task from 69 adult participants from the general population. We calculated a range of color and spatial image statistics for the images and examined how the relationship between their statistical properties and the preference ratings varied across individuals, and whether this varies with autistic traits. Our results show that the distribution of color and spatial properties of a scene leads to individual differences in preference depending autistic traits levels. Participant ratings of naturalness did not show the same relationship with AQ. These findings support previous findings of individual differences in how visual properties of a scene affect aesthetic preference, and present a novel finding that these individual differences may be related to the broader autistic perceptual profile. Accounting for some individual differences in aesthetic perception may provide a foothold for future investigations of the mechanisms underlying the experience of visual beauty in art and natural scenes.

Maria Pombo, Aenne Brielmann and Denis Pelli.

+ When judging beauty, order matters only if the stimuli are homogeneous

Beauty judgments can be biased towards or away from a previous beauty judgment. Such effects are called “assimilation” and “contrast” and have been reported mostly for relatively homogeneous sets of stimuli (e.g., faces). How does stimuli similarity influence contrast and assimilation effects? 150 participants rated the beauty of 75 diverse images (everyday snapshots), semantically similar images (sunsets), or images of the same subject (fashion photoshoot). All participants rated the stimuli twice, in two randomized orders. Using linear mixed-effects models, we estimated how well the first rating, the preceding rating, and the first rating of the preceding image predicted the second rating. Huang and colleagues (2018) suggest that assimilation effects stem from anchoring of the previous response while contrast effects stem from perceptual adaptation. Based on their theory, we would expect that the preceding rating would have a positive effect on the repeated rating (indicative of an assimilation effect) and the original rating of the preceding image would have a negative effect on the repeated rating (indicative of a contrast effect). We found that as the similarity between the stimuli in the set increases, the magnitude of assimilation and contrast effects increases. Overall, our results highlight that stimulus homogeneity influences order effects.

Lisa-Maria Van Klaveren and Ralf F. A. Cox.

+ Moved by movement to move: Reacting to movement in artworks depicting animals, humans, movable or immobile objects, and abstract works of art

The importance of motor resonance in art encounters is coming to the surface in the study of aesthetic experiences more frequently (cf. Freedberg & Gallese, 2007). That is, viewer’s sensations and emotions engaging in a given artwork seem to be closely related to the representational content, such as actions, intentions, and objects depicted. Besides, visible traces of the artist’s creative gestures, such as brushwork and signs of the artist’s hand seem to intricately interplay with the perceptions and feelings experienced by the viewer (Gallese, 2017; Brinck, 2018). Motor resonance, what happens in or to viewers’ bodies engaging in a work of art seems to both influence and is influenced by emotions (cf. Fuchs & Koch, 2014). However, underlying processes of these interdependencies remain unclear: Do viewers simulate and/or (directly) act on movement intended by what is depicted and/or residing in how it is painted? The present study investigated whether viewers’ evaluations of the artistic dynamics and subjective experiences of being moved correlated within and differed between categories of artworks figuring animals, humans, movable or immobile objects, and abstract works of art. Moreover, it examined whether viewers’ reaction times to decide whether an artwork was dynamic or static and whether they were moved by the work of art or not differed for artworks in which representational content and artistic style were aligned or not. To that end, 304 participants viewed 150 images of 19th and 20th century paintings, 30 in each category, twice: once evaluating the dynamics of the artwork and once indicating the emotion of being moved. Findings will allow new insights into the underlying processes as well as offer a set of images affording further explorations.

Eva Specker, Jozsef Arato and Helmut Leder.

+ How are real artworks and reproductions judged?

As our world becomes more digital, our interactions with art increasingly occur online through reproductions. Especially now, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, people often have not been able to engage with physical artworks and all kinds of cultural institutions have been forced to close their doors, and were only accessible virtually. Therefore, I will focus on the genuineness effect—the difference in aesthetic experience between a physical work of art and its (digital) reproduction. Specifically, by presenting the results of 2 studies (that have been accepted as a registered report manuscript) I will ask the question if the anchoring effect could explain why the genuineness effect has so far not been found in empirical work. In its most general form, the anchoring effect entails that people make relative judgements and decisions compared to some reference point or “anchor”. It is one of the most robust findings in psychology, and therefore it seems plausible, that such a basic cognitive process would apply to art evaluation. Nonetheless, initial findings of Study 1 (data collection of Study 2 will be completed June 2022) did not find evidence for a genuineness effect. In addition, these initial results seem to underscore the need to incorporate linear mixed models to account for random effects of stimuli (in our case, artworks). I will argue that a better understanding of the genuineness effect—or lack thereof—could not only have a far-reaching impact on the role of cultural institutions and art in our society, but also our scientific understanding of how we interact and engage with art as well as our empirical approach to studying these topics. I will therefore also discuss future directions for the continued investigation of the genuineness effect and how they may be relevant for empirical aesthetics in general.

10:15-11:00 Coffee break Poster Session

11:00-12:15 Symposium – What eye-tracking canreveal about perception and appreciation of art

Anna Miscena and Raphael Rosenberg.

+ Two Ways of Seeing: Investigating the perception of a painting’s surface versus of its subject in light of Wollheim’s theory of twofoldness.

According to aesthetic philosopher Richer Wollheim, when looking at a painting our attention oscillates constantly between two elements: its subject matter and its surface qualities, a perceptual phenomenon which he calls “twofoldness”. The existence of two-fold perception has been theorized in art historical writing at least since the nineteenth century; a discourse of twofoldness can be traced in parallel with the development of modern art. However, while the art-historical discourse describes two-fold perception purely from the perspective of aesthetic phenomenology, Wolheim´s theory considers twofoldness to be also observable from a behavioural perspective, as an assertion which calls for an empirical investigation. This paper describes the latest advances of two eye-tracking investigations on twofoldness in the visual perception of painting: one conducted in a laboratory setting, one in the museum. We hypothesised the existence of a physiological response of the viewer´s eye-movements, which can be described as a twofold alternation of local and global scanpaths. In order to test this hypothesis, we examined the behaviour of viewers looking at modern art. Egon Schiele´s paintings, in which surface qualities – such as colour contrast and texture – are skillfully arranged to interact with subject matter, lended themselves perfectly to this type of investigation.

Stefanie De Winter, Michelle Jansens and Johan Wagemans.

+ Hiraqla’s Chromatic Eclecticism: New Insights from the Tracking Frank Stella Study

In previous laboratory studies on the perception of stimuli derived from Frank Stella’s work (De Winter et al., 2018, 2020), we have demonstrated significant violations of several principles proposed by art critics like Clement Greenberg and Michael Fried about it (e.g., all-overness, instantaneousness, self-referentiality, or anti-illusionism). To investigate the validity of these principles in the intended context, we then designed a multi-method study in the Van Abbemuseum using mobile eye-tracking and questionnaires with three of Stella’s artworks (De Winter & Wagemans, 2022). Here we report findings from a second round of data analysis of the Tracking Frank Stella study on the perception and appreciation of two versions of Hiraqla Variation II (1968) (250 x 500 x 10 cm), a hand-painted replica and a printed copy, shown side by side. In this particular work of the Protractor series, Stella used rainbow-like, circular patterns and a combination of lots of different fluorescent and conventional colored bands. New insights were obtained on participants’ navigation behavior, the distributions of fixations across the two painting types, and the impact of color type, pattern and shape on the fixations. For example, we found more detailed object scans when participants mentioned differences in materiality between the two versions. We also found that more fixations were associated with increased pleasingness ratings. Finally, we found more fixations on fluorescent colors and some interesting interactions between pattern and color, which might be due to the fluorescent colors. In sum, visitors’ perception and appreciation of Hiraqla Variation II were richer and more varied than assumed by the Modernist logic.

Bettina Bläsing and Elizabeth Waterhouse.

+ Effects of experience on spectators’ visual attention while watching a video recording of William Forsythe’s choreography “Duo”

The presented eye-tracking study was part of the project “Motion Together” (Volkswagen Foundation) that extended research on entrainment in contemporary dance to the case study of William Forsythe’s choreography “Duo”. In this duet piece, dancers Brigel Gjoka and Riley Watts coordinate the timing of their virtuosic movement without music or external beat, relying on their experience, the ‘breath score’ and their perception of the audience’s attention, as cues for mutual entrainment. We conducted an eye-tracking study using a 10min video recording of “Duo” (2015) shown on a computer screen as stimulus material, and additional interviews and questionnaires with the participants (15 dancers, 7 with extensive “Duo” experience; 25 non-dancers). Our main interest was to learn how spectators differing in levels of dance expertise and specific experience with “Duo” monitor the two dancers moving together, with particular focus on how they monitor synchrony between the dancers. Eye-tracking data were analysed in relation to the positions of the two dancers. For each dancer, a bounding box surrounding his body was defined in each frame, and sample points were assigned to one of six categories related to the bounding boxes. Samples assigned to each of the categories as well as switches between the bounding boxes were quantified and compared between task conditions and expertise-based groups. Results revealed different patterns of visual attention when looking specifically for movement synchrony compared to free watching in all groups of participants.

Christopher Linden and Johan Wagemans.

+ Eye-tracking Pieter Vermeersch: Artworks elicit specific explorative behaviors

We examined the behavioral patterns of 109 free-exploring museum visitors using mobile eye-tracking at the Pieter Vermeersch exhibition at M Museum in Leuven, Belgium. The exhibition spanned across four rooms and featured contemporary artworks, consisting of large gradient paintings on either canvas or marble slabs with sections of the marble exposed, and architectural installations, consisting of brick and cinderblock walls separating the rooms and entire gallery walls painted with a gradient. Participants’ behaviors within the museum were coded according to our recently developed taxonomy of museum navigation behaviors (TaMuNaBe; Linden & Wagemans, 2021). All artworks elicited a common initial approaching behavior: participants first centered themselves to the artwork, by positioning themselves perpendicular to the work at a comfortable viewing angle, before carrying on to more complex viewing patterns. Gradients painted on slabs of marble, with the natural patterns of the rock intentionally exposed on the surface and edges of the paintings, consistently elicited an ‘angle viewing’ behavior from participants, in which participants zoomed in to visually explore the texture and detail of the exposed stone on the artworks’ edges. Some specific combinations of artworks and installation features elicited ‘alternating gazes’ between these evocative and self-referential features of the exhibition. Additionally, art experts (artists and art historians) within our sample tended to engage more frequently in behavioral patterns involving ‘distance shifts’ such as zooming in to examine fine-grained details of the artworks.

12:15-13:45 Lunch & Poster session

13:45-15:45 Artistic Keynotes

Edwin Zwakman

+ To be announced

To be anouced

Coralie Vogelaar

+ Noise versus Signal

Bio: Coralie Vogelaar is an interdisciplinary artist who combines social science such as behavioural studies with the artistic imagination. Vogelaar investigates the relationship between human and machine by applying machine logic to the human body. Her work manifests itself in the form of performances and video and multimedia installations, for which she works together with experts from various disciplines including data analysis, choreography, and sound design.
Places where her work has been shown include HeK Basel, ZKM – Karlsruhe, Veem House for Performance, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Kunstverein Kassel, Photographers’ Gallery London, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Science gallery Dublin, Noorderlicht Festival, Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, MU Artspace, FOMU – Antwerp and Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen. Her performance Emotion Recognition from an Algorithmic Point of View was featured in The Most Iconic Works of 40 years V2 – Lab for the Unstable Media. in 2021 she was nominated for the Prix de Rome.

15:45-16:15 Coffee break

16:15-17:45 Symposium – Stroboscopic light effects on perceptual and cognitive experiences

Michael Rule.

+ Mathematical models of geometric visual hallucinations induced by flickering light

Over 200 years ago, the neuroscientist Jan Purkinje described the subjective experience of geometric visual patterns triggered by diffuse flickering light. Scientists began exploring models of geometric visual hallucinations in the 1970s, and mathematical theories for how such patterns could be triggered by flickering light have emerged more recently. In this talk, we explore the the history of the mathematical study of geometric visual hallucinations. We review theoretical models, and discuss how flickering light could elicit the perception of geometric phosphenes. The prevailing model is that flicker triggers geometric hallucinations via an interaction between the circuits for pattern perception and resonant periodic stimuli. We close by noting recent developments in the field, and comment on unresolved questions regarding the details of this phenomenon.

Rasa Gulbinaite

+ What do neurons mean when they say: “That totally resonates with me”

What is common between vibrating guitar string and morning coffee that more often than not spills when you walk from the coffee machine to your office desk? Both are examples of resonance that is inherent to most physical systems. Our visual cortex too resonates when stimulated with rhythmic light at frequencies that match or are close to the rhythms it generates naturally. Using examples from human and animal electrophysiological recordings, I will demonstrate that resonance phenomena are preserved across species and across spatial scales of neural activity; and illustrate how stimulation at resonance frequencies can create illusory percepts – something out of nothing.

Miriam Loertscher.

+ How Cinema Learned to Stop Flickering and Love the Bytes

Watching motion pictures in a cinema is based on different perceptual mechanisms depending on the projection technology. Flickering lights are the most obvious visual artifact in mechanical projection compared to digital. Does a flicker rate of 48 or 72 Hz caused by a multiblade shutter influence our subjective cinematic experience? The comparison of projection types in two studies revealed a surprising effect as the mechanical projection of celluloid film produced higher levels of subjective emotional reactions in the audience than the digital projection of the same short films. This finding contradicts the opinion of some authors that digital projection is equivalent to mechanical projection from the spectator’s perspective. The variable properties of mechanical projection like flickering lights and image instability feed the visual system constantly with minor changes from frame to frame. In contrast, the digital projection seems completely stable. One possible explanation is that visual processing differs in both projection types because of altered levels of critical flicker fusion resulting from the dark intermittant phase in mechanical projection. From a cognitive perspective, we could explain the effect with nostalgia because most spectators in these studies were used to the characteristics of analog-mechanical projection in their cinematic experience and this could remind them of former experiences that had a lasting effect. My conclusions suggest that certain technological developments in film projection changed the perceived cinematic look. I believe that introducing flicker in digital cinematic projection has an interesting potential, if we want to strengthen film as an artistic medium.

Guy Edmonds.

+ Flicker in Early Cinema: Artifact as Experience

With cinema’s transition from analogue to digital affecting practices of film preservation as well as film production, it is necessary for our understanding of the impact of cinema on its first audiences that we maintain a technologically accurate conception of the experience of early cinema (1895-1915). Digital restoration and presentation of early cinema can deliver spectacular improvements in quality over previous technologies but by disassociating film content from its means of delivery – and from its associated artifacts – we neglect essential experiential qualities of the original cinema experience and obscure the clearest possible apprehension of a historical reality. Flicker, introduced by the action of the projector shutter, was a primary artifact in the reception of early cinema. Film pioneers worked hard to eradicate it but with only limited success such that it remained a reportable part of ‘the flicks’ well beyond the early cinema period. Employing a novel methodology, I combine analysis of traditional film historical discourse and a literal media archaeology of surviving early film projection devices with insights gained from studying experimental literature on visual perception and electroencephalography to investigate the effect of flicker on film audiences. My conclusions point to a significant difference in the experience of early cinema when viewed via digital projection technology, one which I summarise as ‘image as evidence’ in contrast to its historical counterpart ‘image as experience’.

Matthijs Munnik

+ Flicker observatorium

In my art practice I have built a series of installations centered around flickering light using custom-made stroboscopes. These devices started out as an emulation of now iconic Brion Gysin’s Dreamachine: A cylinder with holes cut out, lit from the inside and placed on a rotating turntable creates a whirl of kaleidoscopic visions when projected onto closed eyelids. I started with a white light pulsating at roughly 8-13Hz, close to the original Dreamachine, but quickly started building more complex devices to investigate other frequencies and colors. I added multi-color LEDs and a microcontroller, and programmed different sequences of flicker patterns. Empirically I designed patterns that I ranked based on their visual effect, and later used as compositional elements in my installations. Viewing the flicker reveals a layer of vivid patterns, a geometric dimension of unworldly colors, fractals, pixels, shapes and dazzling forms. In my installations, I placed this stroboscopic light as a field within either black or white spaces, immersing the audience in the visual effect, as a kind of flicker observatory. In this presentation I would like to share some of my artistic research and empirical findings on the use of stroboscope light. I will present some of the patterns, and the relations I found between different frequencies, colors and visuals, as well as the responses of the audience to my work. Most of all I would like to share my enthusiasm about flicker, and my belief that there is still so much more to explore about the fascinating territory in-between inner and outer vision.

Arthur Crucq

+ On and off; in search for the ‘punctum’ ingeometric decorative patterns

In his article on Andy Warhol’s mid-1960s multimedia Exploding Plastic Inevitable shows, Homay King discusses Barthes’ notion of the punctum from the context of the lighting effects used, such as the flickering of the disco ball and the strobe light. Hal Foster discussed how in Warhol’s work the punctum not so much disturbed the content of the image but enabled the medium to pierce through it, for instance, in the cracks and bubbles of the film reel deliberately left visible in Warhol’s movies. To an extent, the notion of a punctum draws back to Renaissance art theory, for instance, Alberti’s theory of linear perspective in which the punctum is the literal starting point of the line, which Alberti conceptualized as a succession of points without intervals. A series of points alternately interrupted by a given space would form a dotted line, a pattern so to speak, a pattern of dot/no dot, or, in stroboscopic terms, on and off. The alternation that stroboscopic light produces makes everything rhythmic and static instantaneously. The image is reanimated, as it were, but like in film, image by image. I will connect this principle of ‘on and off’ to decorative patterns and their alternation of motifs in which each motif can be considered as an index to the next thereby animating the pattern. The question, however, is where the ‘punctum’ is to be situated and to what extent it either disturbs the notion of the pattern or rather confirms it, to enable the decorated to pierce through it.

Saturday 27 August

9:00-10:45 Talk session IV – Style, Convention Conversation

Viktoria Sommermann and Claus-Christian Carbon.

+ Icons of Photo journalism: References and connectivity to pictorial archetypes

Media images rarely remain in a society’s cultural memory for a long time. However, some pictures gain the status of ‚media icons‘. Usually, those pictures are examined in their historical context and seldom in their pictoriality, although their success as media icons is often based on traditional forms of representation. By classifying these icons into those traditional forms known throughout art history, we found that they use references to known and widely used pictorial archetypes. The connectivity to these motifs can explain why some photographs are more successful than others. Although the context and event of the photograph are certainly relevant, their semantic connectivity is the pivotal trait to becoming a media icon. In an extensive empirical study, we employed ten archetypes developed through art history and which were represented by three art examples each. Participants had to assess the commonality with the given media icons. For the commonality assessment we used a three-layered-construct comprising a pictorial, semantic and perceptual layer. Results support the view of archetypical pervasion of media icons, letting deeply routed psychological processes and associations resonate.

Claus-Christian Carbon and Alexander Pastukhov.

+ The sun from top left: Anaesthetic default from the Renaissance is not available for laypersons

Our perceptual system exhibits a peculiar bias: When estimating the location of a light source a priori, it is assumed to be above (which makes sense given the sun) and slightly on the left. Although this bias is subtle and can only be revealed by using ambiguous stimuli, it nonetheless affects our actions. Already during the Early Renaissance, artists started to compose the scene to place the light source on the left. We investigated whether the same pattern is observed when an image is designed by “laypersons” who are not explicitly trained in the arts and were free to position objects. 224 participants in an online study composed a painting using pre-drawn elements that could be freely selected from a pool of 30 everyday entities typically used in simple figurative scenes (e.g., a house, clouds, a car, various figures of people) plus a sun. 170 participants (76%) included the sun in their painting, placing it at the top (the average elevation was 85% of the maximum height of the picture frame). Although the participants mostly placed the sun off the vertical centerline, they did not prefer a specific side (the average horizontal position was 53% [48%..59%] of picture width (mean, and 95% bootstrapped confidence interval). We could not find an effect of the participant’s age on the position as well. This implies that top-left light source placement by professional artists most likely reflects implicit perceptual preferences (this way, a painting “looks better”) rather than explicit cognitive knowledge.

Peter Hall.

+ Can Subjective Style be Measured Objectively?

The question of style is surely as old as art – and not just the visual arts but in music, literature, fashion, and indeed across all of culture. But the question is new to at least one aspect of modern society: artificial intelligence. An AI algorithm’s behaviour is characterised by one thing above all – the way it defines and measures the difference between two things. In AI, the “things” often (but not always) appear as points, as on a map their distance can be measured using a rule. But this is not an adequate way to deal with the distance between, say, two politicians, or two pieces of music, or two pieces of visual art – or wherever else we need subjective distance. We posit that subjective distance is objectively measurable using “odd one out” experiments. Variations abound, but the simplest is for a viewer of 3 things to pick which of them is “odd”. The implication is that the remaining pair are subjectively more similar to each other than either is to the odd-one-out; as in a long-thin triangle. This forms the basis for an algorithm to learn subjective distance from humans. Once subjective distance is learned it can be used inside any computational task that needs a measure, including but not limited to clustering and statistical inference. This allows us to quantitatively answer questions such as “to what extent do people cluster real art according to the schools etc. recognised by cultural historians?” and “how good are these forgeries?” We plan to test hypotheses such as “Style Transfer output is a style of art in its own right”, and measure improvements in ST algorithms – as the “ST” cluster moves closer to the “real” cluster.

Gregor Hayn-Leichsenring and Katja Thömmes.

+ “How I need you to pose” – Understanding the left hemiface bias of artists when painting portraits

For every art portrait, the artist has a choice of depicting the sitter full face or in profile view with one side of the face turned towards the viewer. A growing body of research suggests that the depicted hemiface, however, is not determined by pure chance. In fact, artists paint the left hemiface of the sitter more frequently. We discuss different hypotheses that might help to understand this so-called left hemiface bias (LHB). Do painters and beholders prefer the left hemiface for aesthetic reasons? Is there a perceptual, neuropsychological explanation for the LHB? Or is it a merely practical choice based on handedness, lighting, or social status? We focus on both the reception and the production of paintings and discuss the role of emotionality (i.e., the idea that one hemiface shows more positive/negative emotions), agency (i.e., the conceptualization that one side represents a higher activity), and maternal imprinting (i.e., a bias in the way parents hold their babies). Based on more than 2,000 crowdsourced images from Instagram, we replicate the LHB in traditional art portraits (around 55% left hemifaces) but find no aesthetic preference for left hemifaces. In an additional controlled lab experiment with 150 participants on 96 original and mirrored paintings from three art periods, we also find that there is no difference in subjective evaluations (emotional expression, attractiveness, or agency) between paintings showing left or right hemifaces. We conclude that the bias is not motivated through viewers’ aesthetic preferences for left hemifaces. Thus, we propose that the LHB is not based on the reception of the viewer, but rather on practical and/or aesthetic decisions of the artist. Therefore, future research on the LHB should focus more on the production side.

Erkin Özmen and Gregor Hayn-Leichsenring.

+ Beauty and the Beasts – The Aesthetics of Propaganda Posters

Posters have been a widely used propaganda medium throughout modern history. The 20th century saw their use on an unprecedented scale as artists and graphic designers generated a continuous stream of visual content, tailored to the political messages they were designed to deliver. Besides the form (i.e., the way of depiction), the semantic content (written slogans and depicted objects), appears to be a crucial factor for perceiving those messages. Models of aesthetic experience also commonly feature a perceptual and cognitive processing channel. In this present study, we investigate the interplay between perceptual and cognitive processing channels that form our aesthetic judgements of political imagery. To this aim, we created a comprehensive database of digitized wartime posters from World War II. Posters were categorized by the publishing country and ideology and a set of descriptive classifiers for image content. We then analyzed the images for their objective properties (e.g., complexity, self-similarity). A subset of these images were subsequently presented as visual stimuli in an online survey where subjects were asked to rate posters for their aesthetic appeal under gist (500ms) and long exposure (no time restrictions) conditions. Participants were also instructed to provide a political self-assessment on a spectrum derived from the Nolan chart. Subjects who placed themselves on the political right gave higher ratings on average, with no difference in ratings between gist and long exposure. Left-wing participants gave significantly lower ratings in long exposure. On the image level, less complex propaganda posters were overall preferred. Furthermore, we observed significantly higher ratings for Nazi-German posters under gist than under long exposure conditions — an effect that was absent in Western Allied posters. Thus, we show that aesthetic evaluations of propaganda posters are influenced by objective complexity, viewing duration, and political views of the observers.

Nicole Ruta, Rebekah Dyer, Dhanraj Vishwanath and Brendan Wolfe.

+ Reconnect, reiterate and reveal:a multidisciplinary framework to integrate artistic and scholarly research

We will present a video essay collecting the different experiences, reflections and realities of visual artists and researchers brought together by TheoArtistry: Text & Image (2021), a multifaceted research project investigating the cognitive, psychological, and theological implications of text in visual art. Over the course of six months, the international group of twenty-five participants worked collaboratively within eight interdisciplinary partnerships to research and discuss ideas for the formation of new text-inclusive artworks. The scheme culminated in the collective exhibition ‘Art as Revelation’ held in St Andrews, Scotland in November-December 2021 (artasrevelation.org). The format of the presentation echoes our experiences of the partnerships under COVID-19. Travel restrictions forced us to conduct most of the activities online: participants’ selection process, meetings among each group, masterclasses and check-in sessions organised by the curators. The impossibility of all meeting in person was perhaps the biggest challenge the project faced. Under such challenging circumstances, word and image were the only means left to communicate. Three words were chosen to reflect the vision behind TheoArtistry: ‘Reconnect’ as in finding areas of overlap between theory and practice. ‘Reiterate’ as in reflecting on core issues across time. ‘Reveal’ as in generating new meaning throughout a collaborative process. The aims of the curators, Dr Nicole Ruta and Dr Rebekah Dyer, were to understand the role that academic research can have in shaping the artistic process and, more generally, to gain a deeper insight into the way the written word influences artistic choices. Are both text and image essential to our understanding of art? Does text modify our relationship with images? By blurring the lines between theory and practice, we wanted to create for the TheoArtistry partnerships a space where these questions can be explored across the traditional boundaries of ‘creative’ and ‘scholarly’ methods and approaches.

10:45-11:15 Break

11:15-12:30 Talk session V – Neuro aesthetics

Giacomo Bignardi, H. Lina Schaare, Brad Verhulst, Beate St Pourcain, Simon E. Fisher, Simon B. Eickhoff and Sofie L. Valk.

+ Brain-wide functional alterations of the principal gradients of human brain connectivity relate to aesthetic sensitivity

Instances of aesthetic experience can simultaneously engage typically decoupled sensory and transmodal brain regions. This observation is consistent with philosophical and empirical aesthetic theories, which state that some aesthetic experience results from sensory processes filled with self-relevant information. This raises the question of whether individuals’ tendency to value aesthetic experiences may be related to stronger functional integration between sensory and transmodal regions. Here we describe associations between Aesthetic Sensitivity, a facet within the personality framework capturing openness for and pleasure from aesthetic experiences, and variability in the principal function axis (G1), the organizing gradient capturing sensorimotor-association functional connectivity dissociations. We used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data from 1001 subjects from the Human Connectome Project (HCP) S1200 Young Adult release. In line with theoretical and empirical findings, Brain-Wide Structural Equation Models of G1 variance showed compression of the sensorimotor-association axis to relate to Aesthetic Sensitivity, within the HCP participants, especially within visual, limbic, frontoparietal, and default mode networks (all associations p<.05, False Discovery Rate corrected for multiple comparisons). Meta-analytic functional decoding confirmed that these brain-wide associations were positively associated with functional maps related to visual perception and negatively associated with autobiographical memories cognitive ontologies and terms. Such descriptive results align with previous findings on resting-state network connectivity and with aesthetic theories emphasizing the role of autobiographical memories and the self in instances of aesthetic experiences.

Theresa Rahel Demmer, Matthew Pelowski and Nina Fasan.

+ Edmund de Belamy and the Art of Transmitting Emotions – Exploring Perception and Emotion Sharing in AI generated Art using fNIRS

In October 2018 Christies sold “Portrait of Edmond de Belamy” for $432,500. This is no unusual price for art. However, this case was unique in that the artwork was not by a human but by an artificial intelligence (AI). Its sale, in turn, led to an uproar, with critics postulating that it was an affront to the role of art, since—we all know—AI-produced artefacts cannot be art as they lack art’s constituent aspect, an emotional intentionality and transmission through the work. However, the evoking of emotions or empathy is often seen as an essential part of aesthetic experience, but is it true that viewers actually cannot make such connections to AI art? Do viewers find intentionality and emotional qualities even if they know no human sender is to be found? How do possible empathic connections impact our relation to art? In this study we used a unique paradigm in which we worked with both artists and AI to produce highly similar artworks (black-and-white abstract grids, CAN/GAN-Art/similar paintings), and shown to participants labeled either as humans or computers made, true half of the time. Participants were asked to rate and to report whether they felt or thought emotions had been intended, as well as having brain activity monitored by fNIRS. Results showed evidence for understanding and feeling emotions intended by artists, but also reported emotions and intentions when viewing AI art. This was related to brain activation over empathy ROIs, and highlights implications for our understanding of art experience and importance of further artistic AI/empathy research.

Blanca Thea Maria Spee, Thieme Stap, Julia Crone, Jan-Jurjen Koksma, Marjan Meinders, Sirwan Darweesh, Bastiaan R. Bloem and Matthew Pelowski.

+ Unlocking the Muse: Insights Into the If, When, and Why Artistic Creativity Might Emerge, Change, or Be Applied as Art-Based Intervention in People with Parkinson’s Disease.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder associated with a range of motor and non- motor deficits, such as decreased reward motivation, cognitive flexibility, and visuospatial abilities; symptoms which are all linked to reduced creativity. However, in the last 20 years, case observations have reported that a substantial number of people with PD feel an emerging urge to make visual art, have their creativity reawakened, or change their way of art interaction. These findings open a wealth of opportunities for understanding specific features of PD, creating art-based interventions, and gaining a deeper understanding of the nature of creativity and artists. These findings might also provide insights into how the experience of realities transforms due to neurobiological changes. However, current research lacks systematic evidence to explain fundamental questions such as the actual incidence, and potential person-, motivation-, and context-related factors that might influence or drive such changes, leaving us with largely unutilized promises that might be gleaned from this phenomenon. In our presentation, we will introduce a new third-party funded and transdisciplinary initiative (‘Unlocking the Muse’), seizing the opportunity to study the intersection of PD and artistic creativity. Based on a large-scale epidemiological study embedded in the ‘PRIME-NL’ cohort, in which we systematically assessed people with PD (N > 850), we suggest that up to 35% report a change in their own creative experience. In collaboration with neurologists, creative therapists, artists, patient researchers, and researchers in art psychology and transformative learning theory, we discuss a unique program to investigate the underlying causal mechanisms of experienced changes in artistic creativity; a program that intends to take the unique perspective of people with PD into consideration while developing innovative studies, interventions, and clinical approaches, and thus, provides novel insights into one of the worldwide fastest growing neurodegenerative diseases.

Guido Orgs, Laura Rai, Haeeun Lee, Matthias Sperling, Federico Calderon and Jamie A. Ward.

+ The Neurocognition of Liveness

Watching live performance is an inherently social activity wherein people often share highly emotional experiences. Yet, neuroscientific research into music or dance cognition and appreciation has been almost exclusively conducted on individuals in a lab-setting. Across three live performances of a dance choreography (‘Detective Work’) we measured real-time dynamics between brains of groups of people. We recorded 32-channel mobile-EEG and respiratory activity from up to 23 spectators simultaneously (total N=92), assessing spectators’ mood, personality, dance experience, and engagement with performance. We compute Inter-brain connectivity to measure brain and body synchrony between spectators relative to an active resting-state baseline. We predict brain synchrony will a)increase with audience engagement, b)vary with structural features of choreography and c)depend on individual differences between spectators, such as their dance experience. To our knowledge, this is the largest hyperscanning study of simultaneous wet-electrode EEGs to-date. Our findings contribute towards understanding neural mechanisms of sharing attention and affect in large groups of people.

12:30-13:00 VSAC Business meeting

13:00-15:30 Break

15:30-18:00 Symposium – Rembrandt

Arjan de Koomen

+ To be announced

To be anouced

Jeroen Stumpel

+ To be announced

To be anouced

Lisa Wiersma

+ To be announced

To be anouced

Joris Dik

+ To be announced

To be anouced

Rob Erdmann

+ To be announced

To be anouced

Posters Thursday

Erick Gustavo Chuquichambi, Enric Munar, Martin Skov and Oshin Vartanian.

+ How universal is the effect of visual curvature?

Visual preference for curvature is widely supported by the Empirical Aesthetics literature. This effect has been reported using multiple measures, kinds of stimuli, and experimental designs. A few historical and theoretical reviews on preference for curvature can be found in the literature. However, less is known about the quantitative magnitude of the effect, and its possible moderator variables. In light of the accumulation of empirical evidence, we present a pre-registered systematic review and meta-analysis of visual preference for curvature that quantifies its magnitude, and synthesizes the factors moderating this preference. Specifically, we compared studies including curved and angular contour types in behavioural preference tasks. 309 effect sizes obtained from 106 samples of participants in 61 studies were collected and analysed by means of a three-level meta-analysis model. Results demonstrate a moderate magnitude of preference for curvature in the literature. However, this effect is moderated by variables such as dimension (i.e., the concept employed to measure preference), stimuli type (meaningless, object, space design, symbol design), presentation time of the stimulus (limited vs. unlimited), and participants’ expertise (non-experts, quasi-experts, experts). This work provides a more complete framework to understand visual preference for curvature. We also discuss our findings with the aim to enrich the design of subsequent studies exploring the effect of curvature.

Gregor Hayn-Leichsenring

+ CryptoPunks – Aesthetics of non-fungible tokens predict their value

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are proofs of ownership for units of data stored on a blockchain. They can represent many things ranging from game characters, trading cards and virtual landscapes to artworks. In recent years, NFT artworks have become more and more popular. CryptoPunks is an NFT collection that consists of 10,000 images (24×24 pixels, each) which have been generated algorithmically. Every avatar has a gender (female, male, zombie, ape, or alien) and 0 to 7 attributes (like earring, cigarette, bandana, mohawk, and so on). Due to their popularity, CryptoPunks became highly expensive (up to 7.5 million dollars) and can be seen as a status symbol in the digital world. Here, we investigated whether the selling price of single CryptoPunks avatars is arbitrary, or whether it is correlated with properties of the representing image. 6,240 CryptoPunks (every avatar that has been sold until August 2021) were investigated. Analysed properties were the gender and number of attributes of the CryptoPunk. Furthermore, as a measure for visual aesthetics, we examined objective image statistics (Complexity, Anisotropy, and color values). We found that next to gender and attribute number, objective image statistics (Anisotropy and Color Hue, amongst others) are significantly correlated with the last selling price of the avatars. Our results show that objective visual features play a role in estimating the value of NFT artworks.

Christina Krumpholz, Cliodhna Quigley, Leonida Fusani and Helmut Leder.

+ Vienna Talking Faces: A stimulus database of voices, pictures, and synchronized videos of speaking humans (ViTaFa)

Our judgements of how attractive other people are can be based on different sensory modalities; we hear, we see, we smell them. However, research into attractiveness typically investigates only one modality at a time, and this is reflected in existing stimulus databases. Few offer full visual and auditory stimuli, and even fewer contain natural dynamic combinations of both modalities, even though this is how we naturally encounter other people. We developed a database of videos of talking faces with synchronized audio that will facilitate more ecologically valid, multimodal research into human attractiveness. It contains synchronized video and voice recordings as well as photographs of 20 male and 20 female German speakers interpreting different emotional conditions (neutral, sad, happy, angry, flirty). Different content is available for each speaker, including pseudo-words and spoken vowels, which allows use of the material with non-German speakers. We recorded video simultaneously from three different angles (frontal, profile, 3/4 view) in front of a green screen. In an online study we collected ratings on several dimensions including general attractiveness, and we also measured objective parameters of faces (width-to-height ratios, shape related to sexual dimorphism, averageness, and symmetry) and voices (fundamental frequency). We report the results of this comprehensive validation of the database to make it usable for audio/visual empirical aesthetics research, but also face or emotion research.

Hannah Alexa Geller, Ralf Bartho, Katja Thömmes and Christoph Redies.

+ Higher Aesthetic Ratings for Computer-Generated Abstract Images With Statistical Image Properties Similar to Traditional Artworks

Artificial intelligence has proven to be a powerful tool for artists and researchers. One particularly popular application of artificial intelligence is Neural Style Transfer (NST; Gatys et al., 2015). With this method, the artistic style of a painting can be transferred onto another image, for example, a photograph, thus generating a novel artwork. Although the computational paradigms that mediate NST are well understood, it is less clear how NST affects objective statistical image properties and how beholders perceive the novel stimuli. In the present study, we used the NST algorithm by Kolkin et al. (2019) to transfer the artistic styles of 25 diverse abstract paintings onto colored random-phase patterns with six different Fourier spectral slopes (i.e., with different amounts of fine detail versus coarse structure). The resulting 150 style-transferred abstract images lacked any recognizable content and thus minimized confounding effects of cognitive processing. For all images, we calculated a set of eight statistical image properties that covered various aspects of complexity, self-similarity, color statistics, and the distribution of basic pictorial elements, such as oriented edges. Forty participants rated the images along the aesthetic dimensions Pleasing, Harmonious, and Interesting. Results showed that most of the image properties and aesthetic preferences transferred efficiently from the original artworks onto the novel style-transferred images. The image properties of the style-transferred images predicted 50-69% of the variances for the ratings. Style-transferred images were rated more highly if their image properties were closer to those of a large set of 1629 traditional Western paintings (JenAesthetics dataset; Amirshahi et al., 2015). In conclusion, for abstract images created by NST, participants shared a taste for perceptual features that characterize traditional Western paintings.

Samantha Wutuh and Masashi Nakatani.

+ Haptic Vibrotactile Palette: Enhancing Tactile Material Perception in Digital Experiences

How do we discern materials? Plastic is plastic because it is crinkly, glossy and smooth. Wood is wood because it thuds, is matte and rough. Material perception encompasses 3 main senses: audio, visual and tactile. Alas, in digital experiences such as movies and games, the sense of touch is often absent. Whilst audiovisual cues do emulate haptic perception to a certain degree, it fails to fully convey the material properties we are able to obtain through touch. As we move further to an increasingly digitized world – which elevates sight and demotes touch – it is important that we focus on redefining “touch” digitally and virtually for the new generation. In order to bridge this gap, we are creating a haptic vibrotactile palette to allow users to “touch” virtual textures. This customizable tactile palette is devised based on 5 perceptual dimensions: stiffness, stickiness, temperature, and micro and macro roughness. Vibrations are constructed based on the frequency and pattern of the respective dimension’s informative sound and foley. They are then induced by the use of Vibrotransducers (Vp2), where the vibrotactile cues are provided in a handheld form. Calibration is done by employing the haptic palette to enhance material perception in a 3D CG animation focused on surface texture and material, supported by motion and interaction with external forces such as lighting and atmosphere. Future research may touch upon VR experiences such as games and virtual shopping.

Pik Ki Ho and Gregor Hayn-Leichsenring.

+ Gazing at the realistic – Eye movements during aesthetic appreciation of Baroque, Impressionist, and Expressionist art portraits

Portraits have been a prominent class of art paintings for centuries. While the motif remained relatively stable, the style and realism of the paintings changed over time. Here, we investigated how viewing behaviour during aesthetic appreciation of art portraits is influenced by artistic style, perceived level of realism and attractiveness of the sitter. Twenty-six participants were presented with 48 art portraits (16 Baroque, 16 Impressionist, 16 Expressionist; with normative ratings of attractiveness and realism) for a free-viewing time of 15 seconds each. During this time, we recorded their eye movements. Participants were then asked to rate the overall beauty of each portrait (not the attractiveness of the sitter). Results of linear mixed effects model analyses revealed a significant fixed effect of artistic style on the number, average and total duration of fixation on the sitter (overall more fixations for Impressionist, but longer average duration of fixation for Baroque). Artistic style significantly interacted with both realism and attractiveness on the total duration and number of fixations on the sitter. Realistic Baroque portraits with attractive sitters attracted more fixations, especially in the eye area, while an opposite effect of realism was observed for Expressionist portraits. We found no effect of attractiveness for Expressionist and Impressionist portraits. None of the eye movement measures could be predicted by the beauty ratings. Taken together, our findings suggest a distinct pattern of viewing behaviour on art portraits independent of aesthetic judgments. However, the viewing behaviour might reflect the cognitive processing of artistic style and realism.

Claudia Muth, Gesche Westphal-Fitch and Claus-Christian Carbon.

+ Experience and interest shape the perception of order. How affinity for art and de sign changes our look at visual patterns

People typically prefer ordered to disordered visual patterns, but interest benefits from flawed, non-obvious or complex order. Beauty was conceptualised to combine meaningfulness with complexity. We suggest that the appeal of order reflects the general perceptual motivation to order and the pleasure of the process of ordering. Experience with aesthetic images might influence this process. In the present study, design-oriented students (graphic design) as well as non-design-oriented students (psychology) evaluated mosaic-tile patterns which were created via the software Flextiles on liking, beauty, interestingness, complexity, orderedness, and obviousness of order. In addition, we assessed individual levels of art-experience and art-interest. Our findings replicated earlier results with regard to preference for order and interest in flawed and complex order. Meanwhile, we noted slightly higher complexity-ratings for beautiful patterns. Furthermore, design-oriented participants and those who expressed higher levels of art experience and interest generally estimated complexity to be lower and orderedness to be higher.

Sean Dageforde, Daniela Parra, Robin Jensen, James Brockmole and Gabriel Radvansky.

+ Encounters and Memory for Representational and Abstract Art

Our on-going study focuses on the influence of type of art on understanding and memory. We operationalized understanding in two ways. First is perceptual understanding of the physical object (e.g., perceptual characteristics such as color, size, angles, etc.). We expect this to be similar across people. The second is interpretive understanding of what the work is about (often called gist), such as “This depicts human suffering”. Interpretive understanding can vary across people. To date participants (n = 153) viewed representational and abstract artworks and had memory tested after three retention intervals. In the first session, people viewed 22 pieces. While viewing, they received prompts, some of which focused on perceptual details (e.g., “What color is the empty tomb?”) while others explored interpretation (e.g., “What are the people in the painting thinking about?”). Memory was tested immediately, and after 24-hour and 1-week delays. Memory probes assessed perceptual details (e.g., “How many standing stones…?”) and interpretive understanding (e.g., “What was the mood of the crowd….?”). The results revealed that art type influenced memory (p < .001). Overall, memory declined over time (p < .001). For the representational art, memory of perceptual details and interpretive gist declined similarly. However, for abstract art, memory of what they were about was more stable. After a week, interpretive gist memory was superior to detail memory. Finally, we asked people to rate their emotional engagement while viewing each piece and correlated this with memory. For representational art we found a positive correlation (r = .34) whereas with the abstract art we found a negative correlation (r = -.47). In other words, emotional engagement was related to better memory for representational art, but worse memory for abstract art. We plan to extend such encounters and assessments to multiple real and virtual environments with different event structures.

Akira Asano, Nao Nishimura and Chie Muraki Asano.

+ Harmony and dissonance in continuous color changes

In the problem of color arrangements, while a color harmony is felt in contrast between similar colors, it is also felt like an “accent color” when the colors are far apart in hue, lightness, or saturation. The classical color harmony theory states that the harmony between two colors includes “harmonies of similarity and contrast” or “harmonies of identity, similarity, and contrast” and dissonances in the periphery of these relationships. In this study, we conducted experiments to investigate how the harmony or dissonance alternates when the saturation and lightness of one of two adjacent color samples of the same hue change continuously. Two adjacent rectangular regions as color samples were set up on a PC screen. The hues of the two regions were identical, and the saturation or lightness of only one of the two colors was continuously changed. The respondents clicked the mouse button when they felt an alteration from harmony to dissonance or from dissonance to harmony, and the color parameter at the changeovers was recorded. The experimental results show that the number of alterations was less than that expected from the relationship of “harmonies of identity, similarity, and contrast” in the classical color harmony theory by Moon & Spencer. In addition, in the experiment in which the saturation was varied, it was found that the saturation region perceived as dissonance tended to be slightly wider when the saturation increased than when it decreased.

Surabhi S Nath, Franziska Brändle, Eric Schulz, Peter Dayan and Aenne Brielmann.

+ Spatial complexity and intricacy predict subjective complexity

Complexity has stood out as an important predictor of aesthetic value judgments since the earliest days of empirical aesthetics. However, there is a considerable lack of consensus on the best way to formalise complexity. Moreover, a large fraction of previous studies used handcrafted stimuli and measures, which compromises the reproducibility and generalisability of results. To overcome these obstacles, we used controlled computer-generated visual patterns and computational complexity measures to model subjective complexity evaluations. We used cellular automata to generate diverse 2D black-and-white pixel-grid patterns (n=240) that are structurally reproducible. We collected complexity ratings from 80 participants for these patterns. We programmatically computed objective complexity measures such as density, entropy (Shannon entropy averaged over multiple scales), spatial complexity (mean information gain over pairs of pixels), Kolmogorov complexity (length of shortest computer program to produce the desired pattern), and local and global asymmetry. We also introduced an “intricacy” measure that quantifies the number of components in the pattern using a graph-based approach. Linear mixed effects regression indicated that a weighted combination of spatial complexity and intricacy was an effective predictor (R^2test = 0.44) of subjective complexity ratings. This implies that people’s complexity judgments depend on the number of distinct visual elements in the pattern along with their local spatial distribution. Contrary to popular belief, neither symmetry nor entropy related to subjective complexity. An extension of our experiment on 60 participants tested for generalisation and showed that the combination of spatial complexity and intricacy consistently predicted complexity ratings both for larger patterns and for patterns with an additional grey colour. This work introduces stimuli and measures that offer an opportunity for systematic computational investigation of the relationship between subjective and objective complexity and develops a complexity metric that can be widely used to predict subjective complexity evaluations of visual objects.

Boris Quétard, Christopher Linden, Stefanie De Winter and Johan Wagemans.

+ Uncovering modes of viewing abstract art works in museum contexts by analysing eye movements with hidden Markov models

Eye movements can provide insights into how observers perceive and appreciate artworks. However, traditional analyses aggregating fixations into heatmaps or within predefined areas of interest (AOIs) have serious limitations (e.g., when AOIs are difficult to define). Hidden Markov models (HMMs) allow to extract in a data-driven way the AOIs successively visited by the participants and to model eye movements sequences meaningfully. We used mobile eye-tracking to record the gaze behaviour of visitors of two recent exhibitions, one at Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven with three artworks by Frank Stella and one with artworks by Pieter Vermeersch at M in Leuven. Here, we focus on one artwork of each exhibition. In Frank Stella’s case, we examine the viewing behaviours of observers looking at two versions of a huge painting with a complicated geometric pattern of circular arcs and many different colours: a fresh replica with vibrant fluorescent colours and a non-fluorescent printed copy. We evaluate how observers alternate between versions, the attraction of their gaze by the fluorescent colours, and the role played by materiality differences noticed by some observers. In Pieter Vermeersch’s case, the artwork was an untitled marble placed against a painted colour gradient. We examine how different observers come to appreciate the materiality of the marble slab, the colour gradient and their intersection over extended periods with multiple sequences of fixations. We modelled the gaze data of each observer as a HMM using variational Bayes method (EMHMM Matlab toolbox). Then, we cluster the observer’s HMMs between different viewing modes determined in a data-driven way (e.g., starting globally, then alternating between smaller AOIs; making saccades between AOIs encompassing specific features) and estimate their HMM representation with hierarchical expectation-maximisation. We analyse those HMMs representations in relation to the observers’ non-oculomotor viewing behaviours (e.g., getting closer, looking from a very oblique angle).

George Mather.

+ 1/f colour statistics of visual art

Many studies have reported that the Fourier amplitude of luminance variation in photographs of natural scenes declines approximately as a function of 1/f (luminance spectral slope is typically about -1.2 on log-log axes). There is also some evidence that the luminance spectral slope of visual artworks conforms to this 1/f scaling. A few studies have reported that the spectral slope of chrominance variation in photographs of natural scenes is slightly shallower than -1.2. What is the spectral slope of chrominance variation in artworks? Chrominance spectral slopes were calculated for samples of 542 artworks and 245 photographs in CIELAB colour space. Chrominance spectral slopes of photographs were in the range -0.9 to -1.7, consistent with previous studies. By contrast, artworks had a narrower range of steeper chrominance spectral slopes, in the range -1.7 to -1.9. The steeper chrominance slopes of artworks may reflect the lower visibility of high spatial frequencies. The human contrast sensitivity function shows a high spatial frequency cut-off at about 32 cpd for luminance modulation and about 11 cpd for chrominance modulation. The dominance of low spatial frequencies in the chromatic Fourier content of artworks is consistent with the low-pass, low spatial frequency tuning of the chromatic contrast sensitivity function compared to the luminance contrast sensitivity function.

Uwe C. Fischer, Stefan A. Ortlieb and Claus-Christian Carbon.

+ United colours of kitsch: How associations modulate aesthetic evaluations

According to Fechner (1866), aesthetic evaluations are shaped by stimulus properties (direct factors) that will inevitably resonate with one’s learning history to produce personal recollections (associative factors). In the eye of the beholder, the sensory colour of the proximate sensation and the mental colour of the distal one merge into a single idiosyncratic hew. Under the spell of 18th-century ideas like the disinterested observer, current research in empirical aesthetics is mainly concerned with the study of direct factors at the expense of associative ones. This bias is furthered by a habitual choice of stimuli (abstract paintings or patterns) and methods (simple ratings) that leave little room for the expression of associations. In an online study, we used 21 digital images of everyday objects from the Bamberg Repository of Contemporary Kitsch (BAROCK) and asked participants (N=61; Mage=31.8; SDage=16.2; range=17-85 years) to write down their personal associations for each image prior to the rating of all images in terms of kitsch-related variables: liking, familiarity, arousal, determinacy, perceived threat, and kitsch—all variables were assessed on 7-point rating scales. In a follow-up survey, participants reread their own associations and judged them in terms of positivity. We interpreted the number of associations as an indicator for processing depth. Positivity and processing depth were good predictors for liking (Mean of R=.54 CI[.48;.59]) and kitsch ratings (Mean of R=.27, CI[.21;.33]). On an item level, processing depth also modulated familiarity, determinacy, and perceived threat. Overall, results demonstrate a close relationship between aesthetic evaluations and associative factors. They also show how associations can help us interpret different answer patterns for specific images.

Anya Hurlbert.

+ Real Greens in Visual Art: A Case Study

To reproduce the dynamic range of real-world light on a pigmented surface is a fundamental problem with which painters have long wrestled. The problem is particularly pronounced with the colour green. Green is a vast category both in real space and in mental colour spaces: the natural materials that garner the colour term “green” cover large physical areas, from fields to forests. The three-dimensional volume in perceptually uniform colour space (e.g. CIELAB) enclosing coordinates of stimuli named green by normal trichromats is significantly larger than other colour categories, varying broadly in hue, chroma and lightness. Painters have historically been limited in their ability to reproduce the large range of “greens” that occur in nature, because of inadequate pigments. David Hockney turned to iPad painting to “get the greens” in his Arrival of Spring in Normandy (2020), using emissive rather than reflective surfaces, thereby potentially expanding the dynamic range of the reproduction. Hockney then chose to print out his iPad paintings for exhibiting, potentially reducing the range again. The question I address here is whether and how Hockney’s greens capture the hugeness of green in the natural world. Surprisingly, the range of natural greens is smaller than the range people are capable of seeing, so the question is whether Hockney goes too far. As in his depictions of deconstructed three-dimensional physical space, Hockney may strive not to represent reality veridically, but to recreate its perceptual impact.

Anna Fekete, Eva Specker and Helmut Leder.

+ Does beautiful art influence pain and stress experience?

Art can be a powerful, accessible, and cost-effective tool in reducing both pain and stress in everyday life. So far, the beneficial effects of art have been mainly investigated by means of music which has been found to be able to reduce pain (Lee, 2016) and stress (de Witte et al., 2020). When it comes to visual art as a tool for pain reduction, findings are mixed: beautiful paintings have the potential to decrease pain perception (de Tommaso et al., 2008) but compared with self-selected music, visual art has not been found to influence pain tolerance nor perceived control over pain (Mitchell et al., 2008). Therefore, the question is still open whether beautiful visual art can really influence pain and stress experiences? Due to the sensory and affective components of pain and stress (Villemure & Bushnell, 2009), as well as the affectively and cognitively engaging nature of visual art (Leder et al., 2004; Pelowski et al., 2017), we argue that art can be a beneficial tool in this regard. In our study, we asked people to provide artworks that they find movingly beautiful and not beautiful due to the fact that aesthetic experience is guided by private and personal taste (Leder et al., 2016). We investigated whether the aesthetic quality of artworks has the potential to alter pain and stress perception– induced by cold pressor test. Our findings are discussed in terms of behavioural components of pain, stress as well as physiological and endocrine measures.

Vera M Hesslinger, Lena K Pieper and Claus-Christian Carbon.

+ Greater than the sum of its components: Exploring differences in analytic and synthetic art perception

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts—and an artwork is greater than the sum of its components. However, the typical academic approach to investigating art is intellectual, deconstructing, and analytic. Aesthetic research mostly dissects artworks setting independent foci on, for instance, colour, contour and shape, objects and figures, materiality and composition. Researchers isolate different components, systematically manipulate and present them to recipients who shall provide judgements, typically in the lab. Thus, one may gather insights into the aesthetic perception of the individual components, but one will not reach a complete understanding of the experience of art. This experience relies on synthetic processes that comprise multisensory integration of the perception of components of a piece of art and its context. With the present work, we test different methods to trigger what we want to call “analytic” vs. “synthetic art perception” and explore the resulting subjective experiences of the recipients.

Trent Davis and Wilma Bainbridge.

+ Determinants of a Painting’s Memorability Both Online and In-Person – Looking at Features Ranging from Size to Semantics

Every piece of artwork is unique, and viewing art is often seen as a subjective experience. Additionally, many works of art are made to last in people’s memories and leave an impact on the viewer. However, what makes a work of art memorable? We determined and studied the memorability of 4,021 paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) both in an online and in-person task. In an online task, over 3,200 people participated in a continuous recognition task to determine the memorability scores of the paintings. Participants were significantly consistent in the pieces they remembered and forgot, and that memory performance was predictable by a neural network (ResMem; Needell & Bainbridge, 2021), showing that an objective memorability score can be quantified for a piece of art. We identified properties that influence memorability scores: paintings with text or unusual content tended to have higher memorability scores, and paintings with the lowest memorability scores were usually scenes or landscapes with little visual information and a darker color palette. Additionally, the paintings that caused the most false alarms tended to be beige landscapes or scenes. Importantly, famous pieces were judged as significantly more memorable by ResMem, suggesting that certain perceptual features of a painting can influence its success. For the in-person task, a separate set of participants walked through and observed 168 paintings on both the first and second floors of the American Art wing of the AIC. Participants answered a mobile experiment indicating which paintings they remembered seeing, intermixed with foils. We found that ResMem memorability scores were also able to predict in-person memory behavior, suggesting a consistent influence of images on our memories. Lastly, we saw that a painting’s size had a significant impact on memorability, as well as its interaction with the size of adjacent paintings.

Posters Friday

Andrea van Doorn and Jan Koenderink.

+ Teal & Orange

“Teal & Orange” is a preferred “look” of the Hollywood movie industry. This palette has been around for ages in the visual arts as “painting in cool and warm.”Are there fundamental reasons for the preference for this particular dichromatic pair?We find that human anatomy/physiology, the physics of surface scattering, and the ecology of the human Umwelt cooperate to render the teal & orange palette special. It stands out above other dichromatic axes like green-purple, only the white-black palette competes.The appeal of the Teal & Orange palette involves world, body and mind and has to be understood in a proper semiotical (biological) setting.We show some instances from the arts that examplify this.

Aleksandra Igdalova and Rebecca Chamberlain.

+ Mindful Viewing in the Gallery: Behavioural and Physiological Responses to a MBE While Viewing Artworks in an Ecologically-Valid Setting

As mindfulness techniques feature more prominently in the engagement approaches of arts institutions (e.g., Fox, 2020), there is increased interest in investigating the impacts of mindfulness on viewing experience. There has been evidence to suggest that trait mindfulness levels can predict differences in self-reported aesthetic experience (Harrison & Clark, 2016) and that changes in state mindfulness positively impact the memorability of artworks presented to adults (Zabelina et al., 2020), but the mechanisms by which mindfulness may impact aesthetic experience in the gallery are still unclear. Mindfulness has been linked to changes in heart rate variability (HRV; Christodoulou et al., 2020), with evidence supporting an increase in stress-responsive adaptivity of HRV following an induction (Shearer et al., 2016), suggesting that mindfulness could therefore alter aesthetic experience via a global impact on physiological arousal. The current study aims to shed further light on this relationship by examining self-reported behavioural responses and physiological responses to a mindful breathing exercise (MBE). An opportunistic sample of Manchester Art Gallery visitors were randomly sorted into one of three groups before viewing two artworks in a specifically curated gallery space. One group participated in a MBE video before viewing, another group viewed a video about the history of the space, and a third group had no video primer. After viewing the artworks, all participants completed self-report scales of aesthetic experience (Wanzer et al., 2020) and mood (Russell et al., 1989). Physiological measurements were recorded during the pre-viewing activity and during art viewing by means of an Empatica E4 wrist sensor. Data analysis will focus on between-group comparisons of behavioural and physiological data during the pre-viewing phase and the artwork viewing phase, and on the relationship between individual differences in physiological responses to the pre-viewing activity and behavioural responses during artwork viewing.

Kirren Chana and Helmut Leder.

+ Reading in the City: everyday encounters with text in an urban setting

‘Reading in the City’ is an ongoing EU project as part of the ELIT network. This project examines ‘everyday aesthetics’ within the empirical study of literature and considers what happens when we extend the notion of a reading experience to include reading in everyday life. Despite text being ever-present within urban environments, natural reading events as well as the aesthetic experiences connected to them are scarcely explored. As such ‘Reading in the City’ aims to address how reading is meaningfully embedded in everyday urban life. Stemming from a free exploration walk along the city streets of Vienna, we study the act of reading and its relation to the memorability and aesthetic features of script elements in natural environments. We ask people to engage in a short free-viewing walk along street settings while equipped with mobile eye tracking glasses, in order to record the reading events that occurred. Events are then evaluated regarding general reading characteristics, as well as the frequency and similarities in how they are perceived. Following from the eye-tracking walk, we also collected participants’ recall, recognition, and ratings of text signs that were already present along the street in question. Signs are evaluated in terms of beauty, familiarity and meaningfulness, in order to examine whether there was a predictive effect of aesthetic value on viewing behavior and memorability of text. Our results discuss the prevalence of reading events across the street settings and with regard to the interactions people have with specific text signs.

Shino Okuda, Rina Furusawa, Moeka Matsumura, Satoko Taguchi, Sayako Kuroda, Hirotaka Kakizaki and Katsunori Okajima.

+ Preferred Lighting for Appearance of Art Works: A Study of Hummingbirds in John G ould’s “Folio Bird Books”

The appearance of artworks depends on the surface color, the material and the lighting condition. The present study aims to clear the preferred lighting conditions for the appearance of artworks depicting natural objects such as plants and birds. We focused two kinds of hand-colored lithographs from the Hummingbirds in John Gould’s “Folio Bird Books” collected by Tamagawa University Museum of Education as visual targets.We conducted the evaluation experiment on the appearance of these pictures under 36 lighting conditions, which differs in the correlated color temperature (CCT) and the chromaticity difference from Planckian locus (duv). First, we measured the spectral data of the surface of these pictures using a 2D spectroradiometer and calculated spectral reflectance values of each pixel. Next, we generated the simulated digital image of each picture under 36 kinds of illuminants using the spectral reflectance data of pictures, the spectral distribution of illuminants and the calibration data of an LC-display which was used in the experiment. Theoretically, there should be no difference between evaluations of the digital image and the real object. In total, we generated 72 images, and each image was presented on the LC-display. Participants observed each picture, and rated “brightness”, “contrast” and “vividness of blue/green/red”. Also, they evaluated “uncomfortable-comfortable”, “static-dynamic”, “unnatural-natural”, “plain-flashy”, “cool-warm”, “cheap-high grade”, and “preference of lighting”. They were 10 females and 10 males, being familiar with art. The results showed that the appearance was comfortable, natural and high-grade under the high CCT and negative duv. Also, it was shown that the preference of lighting correlates “high-grade”, “naturalness” and “flashiness”. These results suggest that the preferred appearance of artwork is largely affected by the lighting conditions, such as CCT and duv. *This study was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 18KK0282 and 22H03896.

Adam Peter Frederick Reynolds, Emiliano Ricciardi and Edward Vessel.

+ Dissociating Incentive Salience from Aesthetic Appeal.

Can aesthetic value (appeal) be dissociated from other forms of reward value? Although learned associations contribute to the aesthetic value of an object, positive and negative reinforcement are not the sole determinants of aesthetic value: previous work with faces suggests that attractiveness can be dissociated from incentive salience (e.g., motivation to view). Using a reinforcement learning paradigm, we investigated whether aesthetic appeal and incentive salience can be independently operationalized, and if changes in incentive salience affect the aesthetic appeal. First, observers viewed and rated a set of 35 abstract images for their aesthetic appeal. Then, images of low, medium, and high aesthetic value were associated with either positive, neutral or negative outcomes (small monetary wins/losses) over repeated trials (9 total conditions). Incentive salience was then assessed through performance on a modified attention cueing task: participants were shown two images on the screen (e.g. a ‘positive’ and ‘neutral’ abstract image) followed by briefly presented letters and had to identify the presence of a target letter as fast and accurately as possible. Finally, observers again rated the aesthetic appeal of the images. Preliminary results (n=6 ) indicate that monetary reinforcement was successful at manipulating incentive salience (better performance on the attention task for positively reinforced images). A comparison of pre- and post- aesthetic ratings reveals the effects of both initial aesthetic value and reinforcement. These findings suggest that the aesthetic value of an object is represented separately from its incentive salience, but that changes in incentive salience can also influence aesthetic value.

Marc Welter, Axel Bouneau, Fabien Lotte and Tomàs Ward.

+ Towards curating personalized art exhibitions in Virtual Reality with multimodal Electroencephalography-based Brain-Computer-Interfaces

Today, we live in an age of ‘Like’ where appreciation of digital content is expressed constantly by interacting with feedback icons. In contrast, Brain-Computer-Interfaces (BCIs) can decode cognitive states from neural signals without explicit user feedback that interrupts aesthetic experiences (AEs).This recently started project will elucidate the neuro-cognitive mechanisms behind art appreciation and implement an Electroencephalography (EEG)-based BCI to detect physiological correlates of artwork preference in order to curate personalized art exhibitions in Virtual Reality (VR).Most EEG recordings in visual neuroaesthetics focused on Event-Related Potentials, often using paradigms with unnatural viewing conditions. On the other hand, the neural dynamics during visual art appreciation remain obscure and previous studies reported conflicting results. Furthermore, the liking of visual artworks was mostly investigated from the perspective of beauty or pleasantness, concepts which are not applicable to all aesthetic pleasures. We hypothesize instead that art preferences in general depend on rewarding AEs. Therefore, we will develop novel algorithms to decode and discriminate EEG neuromarkers of hedonic AEs.In a first step, we conceptualized neuro-cognitive components of AE, such as attention, emotion and intrinsic reward, as well as their established EEG neuromarkers. In the future, we will record EEG and other physiological measures, e.g. eye-tracking and heart rate, in naturalistic single trial VR experiments, use advanced Machine Learning to detect artwork preference and recommend further objects based on this multimodal information. Finally, we embrace open science and will make subject data and BCI algorithms publicly accessible.

Gemma Schino, Lisa-Maria Van Klaveren, Héctor G. Gallegos Gonzalez and Ralf F. A. Cox.

+ A multiple case study for measuring the experience of Virtual Reality and physical art installations in the museum

The present research investigated the audience responses to two installations selected from the exhibition “The Intelligence of Plants – an Alliance of Science and Art” at the Frankfurt Art Association. The first installation is ‘Embalmed Twins I & II’ by Berlinde De Bruyckere, and it is composed of two sculptures of fallen trees made of different materials. The other is ‘Treehugger: Wawona’ by Marshmallow Laser Feast, a Virtual Reality (VR) installation that explores the inner world of a tree. Visitors that voluntarily participated in the study contributed to the data collection by answering questionnaires and/or by wearing a wireless wrist-worn device (Empatica E4).The collected data concerned three experiential dimensions: 1. Affective dimension. Subjective reportage of the experience includes tools such as the Geneva Emotion Wheel (Scherer, et al., 2013), Bodily Sensation Maps (Nummenmaa, et al., 2014), and Perceived Self-Size scale (Bai et al., 2017) aimed at identifying the type and strength of the experienced emotions, as well as the bodily feelings underlying them. 2. Physiological dimension. Empatica E4 detected electro-dermal activity, heart rate, blood volume pulse, and interbeat interval for an exploration of the audience’s bodily changes during the experience of the installations. 3. Behavioral dimension. Empatica E4 3-axis accelerometer recorded motion-based activity to analyze movement in relation to the physical and VR environments of the installations. Findings of this multiple case study will allow insights into the following research questions: (1) How do the emotions elicited by the physical and VR installations relate to one’s self-awareness of bodily changes? (2) How are physiological and behavioral responses elicited in physical and VR installations? (3) What is the relation between the three dimensions of experience in the two installations? (4) Which installation evoked a more transcendent experience of sublime (in terms of intensity of emotions and feeling of small self)?

Philip McAdams, Megan Chambers, Alice Skelton and Anna Franklin.

+ Spatial complexity predicts adults’ pleasantness ratings and infants’ visual preferences for Van Gogh landscapes

Prior work has shown that some aspects of adult aesthetic preference can be traced back to infancy, with infants looking longer at stimuli (e.g., faces or colours) that adults like. Here we investigate how the low-level spatial and chromatic properties of art predict both adults’ aesthetic ratings and infants’ visual preferences. In particular, we focus here on lacunarity which describes the complexity (or ‘gappiness’) of an image’s spatial composition. Stimuli were digital versions of 40 of Van Gogh’s landscape oil paintings. Our image analysis of the paintings, classified images as having high or low lacunarity. Each participant saw a sub-set of 10 stimuli, 5 with high and 5 with low lacunarity. Every stimulus was paired with every other stimulus in the set twice, and stimuli were presented on colour calibrated iPads. Adults were asked to choose the image that they found most pleasant. The time that infants (age 4 – 9 months) spent looking at each stimulus was calculated by conducting a frame by frame analysis of a recording of the infant’s face. We found that high lacunarity Van Gogh images were rated as more pleasant by adults, and were also looked at longer by infants, than low lacunarity images. Further analysis quantified other spatial and chromatic image properties, and using different regression models we identified a model where a combination of these properties explained large amounts of variation in both infant looking and adult pleasantness ratings. We suggest that examining infants’ visual preferences for art, and comparing this to mature aesthetic judgements in adults, has potential to contribute to debate about the relative contribution of the biological properties of our visual system, experience, and culture, to aesthetics.

Itay Goetz, Lara Bernhardt, Lisa Egerer, Vanessa Leonie Kauffman, Friederike Margarata karg, Elena Matschl, Ana Helena Wittchen and Claus-Christian Carbon.

+ Functional functionlessness: People approach immoral content differently within the context of art

Artists have long been preoccupied with testing the moral limits of art. This has led to the development of two major frameworks to describe the relationship between ethics and aesthetics: (1) Moralism: Ethics and aesthetics cannot be separated – good art must be moral, or even reflect morality, and (2) Autonomism: Art for art’s sake – Art is independent and should be judged only on aesthetic terms. We aimed to address these premises empirically, by exploring whether people accept more immoral content within the art experience. Participants (N=64) viewed 30 photographic images from the Socio-Moral Image Database (SMID) pre-rated as neutral, moral or immoral. The same images were presented as either art or non-art, and participants rated their emotional reaction to the images, as well as their subjective appreciation of the pictures’ beauty, interest and morality. As predicted, participants experienced the same immoral images as significantly less disgusting, irritating and sad when the images were presented as art, compared to non-art. These results are considered in relation to the concept of MAX (Mode of Art eXperience) that assumes that art experience calls for a specific state of mind, which, among others, may widen our frame of moral assessment. Thus, though the Autonomism-Moralism debate regarding the nature of art may remain open, we highlight the capability of art to generate debate and challenge common views on essential social issues, perhaps through offering an alternative reality.

Mitchell van Zuijlen, Sylvia Pont and Shin’Ya Nishida.

+ Measurement of the visual light field within paintings using real-time rendered probes

Humans have implicit expectations of how objects should look within a scene, resulting from our perception of the visual light field. It has been shown that the visual light field can be measured with “gauge probes”. Previous research typically used simple pre-rendered Lambertian smooth sphere and rough golfball probes. We hypothesized that probes allowing for more complex light interactions could improve inter-rater reliability for visual light field measurements. To test this, we used real-time rendered Lambertian light probes in three shapes: a smooth sphere, a rough golfball providing shading and bidirectional texture gradient cues, and a human-shaped probe with self-shadowing. To overcome depth ambiguity the probes replaced either a head or an entire human figure within paintings. Stimuli consisted of five paintings from Europe and five from East Asia, which display vastly different approaches to lighting. Ten participants per probe condition adjusted the lighting on the probe to fit the scene, via the intensity and direction of directed lighting and the intensity of ambient lighting. The human-probe tasks took 50% longer relative to the other probes, implying increased difficulty. We use intraclass correlations (ICC, 2-way random-effects, single rater) as a measure of inter-rater agreement. For direct light intensity we find no significant ICCs. For ambient lighting, ICC improved for the golfballs (.49) relative to smooth probes (.21) while it decreased for human-shaped (.05) probes. When split on geographical origin, this trend remains stable for European paintings, but disappears for East Asian paintings. Taken together our results suggests that differences exist between the visual light fields across paintings. We speculate that this difference is partially caused by the lack of shadows/shading in east Asian paintings. Furthermore, our findings confirm that additional bidirectional texture contrast cues (golfball probe) improve light field measurements, but that too much complexity negatively impacts task performance.

Dominik Lengyel and Catherine Toulouse.

+ Architectural Design as a Translator of Scientific Realities

It is above all the meaningful discussion between art and science that has motivated us to reactivate a style across time and media that builds on traditional visual perception not only in the arts but also in architecture and transfers it from the real to the virtual environments. It is about the translation of uncertainty in the knowledge of the humanities, archaeology, historical building research and art history into scientific, but also architectural visions. It is the actual dichotomy of science and design that architecture brings together. In different weightings, a variety of realities are involved, above all cultural and scientific, and partly, but then explicitly speculative, never fictional. Reception depends not only on cultural conditioning, but also on the context, especially in the museum as a place of increased reflexivity. The museum visitor, after all, is conditioned to be confronted with ideas, not the artistic interpretation in this case, but the scientific interpretation, mediated by an architectural interpretation. This does not start from the idea of reality, but from the idea of design, the intention of the builders behind the building. This idea is only ever an idea and can therefore never be confused with the built architecture. It is thus itself immaterial and can practically never be objective. Nor is there any claim that it is singular, it is rather universal, insofar as architectural certitudes can be universal at all. But this is quite a speculative reality. The visualisation of uncertainty from the two components design of abstraction and virtual photography is architectural design as a translation of the humanities, specifically the visual translation of verbal hypotheses into abstract visions. It thus makes use of visual perception across time and media as it replicates classical architectural model making as well as classical architectural photography in the digital environment.

Doris Braun, Matteo Toscani, Paulina Wolf, Alina Gogel and Karl Gegenfurtner.

+ Context effects on the perception of saturation of fruit colours in still lives

How important is the context for the perception of saturation of object colours? We investigated how the immediate surround of single fruits affects their perceived saturation in classic Dutch (17th-18th century) and modern still lives (19th-21th century). Specifically, we investigated the chromatic contrast between fruit object and surrounding context. Cutouts of single fruits, scaled to a size of 10 deg, and circular cutouts of the fruits with their immediate context (20 deg) were produced. 112 paintings of six different fruit varieties were used (apples, pears, oranges, peaches, grapes and lemons; cherries only for the modern paintings). In each trial, eight images of the same fruit category were presented on a neutral gray background, half of them with and half of them without context. 15 observers ranked the fruits according to saturation. Observers could consistently do this task (agreement 77%). Context had an overall positive influence on perceived saturation, with the context images ranked higher for both classic and modern paintings. Only few of the classic paintings had complementary colors in the surround (with respect to the fruit color). This was much more the case in the modern paintings. Contrary to our expectations, the proportion of complementary colours in the context, had no effect on perceived saturation, neither for classic nor for modern paintings. Similarly, luminance contrast between center fruit and surround did not play a role. There was a highly significant and positive effect of the similarity of the hue histograms in center fruit and surround, but only for the modern paintings. For example, having a lemon at the center surrounded by other lemons increases perceived saturation. Further experiments revealed that this effect was at least partly due to the increased size of the fruit region. Context plays a role for perceiving color saturation, but in new and unexpected ways.

Teresa E. Müller and Vera M. Hesslinger.

+ Lack or abundance? A cross-cultural study on the perception of emptiness in simple architectural spaces

Emptiness is perceived and understood differently depending on context and culture. Literature indicates a possible positive connotation of the concept in the Japanese culture, linked to Buddhist-Shinto ideas of potentiality. From a Western perspective, emptiness signifies the opposite of being filled and is thus associated with incompleteness, lack of meaning, or boredom. In aesthetics, emptiness might be a distinguishing quality between Japanese and European traditions of simplicity. The present work aims to assess empirically cross-cultural perceptions of emptiness, specifically in the context of contemporary architecture. Thirty-two German and twenty-eight Japanese participants rated photographs of simple architectural spaces by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, representing the aesthetic tradition of emptiness, and British architect John Pawson, representing European minimalism. Emptiness significantly correlated with simplicity, minimalism, and nothingness for the German sample but was negatively associated with liking, abundance, and delight. The Japanese sample’s ratings did not show respective constellations. On the contrary, Japanese participants rated plain architectural spaces generally as more abundant and wanted to make fewer changes. The results suggest that emptiness might indeed have a special (aesthetic) quality for Japanese, which Western Europeans do not perceive in the same way.

Stefan A. Ortlieb, Anne C. Kleindienst, Alexander K. Jiranek, Tegist E. Renner and Claus-Christian Carbon.

+ Toward a canvas of kitsch: Exploring different types of kitsch based on a combination of cluster and content analyses

Kitsch is considered one of the most puzzling and elusive categories of (post)modern aesthetics. Available typologies are outdated and lack an empirical foundation. The Bamberg Repository of Contemporary Kitsch (BAROCK) shall close this gap by providing standardised visual stimuli based on an empirically validated canvas of kitsch. In a first validation study, participants (N=100; 50 male, 50 female) rated 208 digital images of everyday objects on 7-point Likert scales regarding liking, familiarity, arousal, determinacy, perceived threat, and kitsch. Cluster analysis suggested seven different types of kitsch. Three images from each cluster were selected as stimuli for a subsequent validation study where participants (N=61; 39 female, 21 male; 1 diverse) were asked to write down their personal associations with each image. Visualisations of common associations (word clouds) were used to explore the semantics of every image and cluster, respectively. This allowed us to label the empirical clusters and relate them to existing kitsch typologies. Since the words “kitsch” and “kitschy” appeared more frequently in connection with specific clusters, it was even possible to distinguish between central and peripheral facets of the kitsch concept: Cluster 1 (sweet kitsch) and Cluster 7 (nostalgic kitsch) form its heart chambers as they provoked by far the most kitsch associations (43 and 21 mentions, respectively). They are followed by a four-leaved clover of peripheral facets: Namely, Cluster 2 (knick-knacks; 10 mentions), Cluster 5 (toy pets; 8), Cluster 3 (everyday favourites; 5) and Cluster 4 (sour kitsch; 3). The standard items of Cluster 6 (plain items) did not spawn any kitsch associations.

Leon Lou.

+ Striking proportion errors in observational drawing revealed from a field Experiment

Proportional accuracy is a telltale sign of proficiency in drawing skills. Like most unintended drawing errors, proportion errors are likely rooted in size constancy bias—-the bias to perceive the physical size of an object from available distance cues, rather than the apparent or perspectival size of the object. We conducted a field study in which the distance of distant object (a huge art installation) relative to close one (a cardboard box) (200 vs. 120 ft) as well as the viewing distance to the close object (27 vs. 9 ft) were varied factorially. 20 non-artist participants drew the two objects in one picture with close attention to their relative size. The greatest distortion in drawing occurred, as predicted, when one object (the installation) was at the greatest distance (209 ft) and the other one (the box) at the closest distance (9 ft) from the viewer, with an average installation/box height ratio of 90% higher than that measured with a ruler of the pair of objects at the same distances. The result is consistent with a model in which the pair of objects are perceived with different degrees of size constancy because the potent distance cues are differentially available for the close object than the distance one. Another plausible account for the result is that objects within the same ego-centric space (Cutting, 1997) are easier to regroup into a pictorial plane with top-down attention.

Jenny Mc Namara

+ Minimalism and the Modular Mind

Engaging with two separate fields of research, the Minimalist art movement and neuroaesthetics, as well as Eric Kandel’s theory of Reductionism, this paper examines the experience of perceptual art. Art that isolates one or two visual elements, as is the case in the pared back aesthetic of Minimalism, can promote a more direct experience because of the modularity of the mechanics involved in visual processing in the primary visual cortex. Minimalism marked a shift in art from object to experience. The value of abstract art in particular is considered as exposure to novel stimuli creates new associations which are formed as neural pathways. More hypotheses about the visual scene are generated, which leads to an increased neural involvement. This is beneficial for cognitive growth. Op Art created perceptual visual disturbances through the creation of artificial depth in 2D pattern; this is demonstrated in work by painters Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely. New Generation sculptors Michael Bolus and David Annesley took simple stripes, shapes and pattern and applied them as a skin of paint to 3D form. These artists are important to my practice as a sculptor because I investigate the effects of colour and pattern. As part of this research I also interviewed Susan Aldworth, lecturer on the Art and Science MA course at St. Martins and Anya Hurlbert, a professor of visual neuroscience at Newcastle University and the 2010-2018 Science Trustee at The National Gallery.

Nao Kokaji and Masashi Nakatani.

+ With a Hint of Sudachi: Food Plating Can Facilitate the Fondness of Food

Among the senses of food, our subjective sense of taste is significantly influenced by our visual perception. In appetite science, previous research has reported that when we estimate quality in daily life, we rely considerably on visual information. This study focused on the multimodal mental imagery evoked by the visual information of food served on a plate and examined the effect of the peripheral visual information of garnish on the sensory impression of the main dish. A sensory evaluation experiment was conducted to evaluate the impressions of food photographs, and multivariate analysis was used to structure sensory values. It was found that the appearance of the garnish placed on the plates close to the main dish contributes to visual appetite stimulants. It is evident that color, moisture, and taste (sourness and spiciness) play a major role in the acceptability of food. To stimulate one’s appetite, it is important to make the main dish appear warm. These results can be used to modulate the eating experience and stimulate appetite. Applying these results to meals can improve the dining experience by superimposing visual information with augmented reality technology or by presenting real appropriate garnishes.

Lena K Pieper, Vera M Hesslinger and Claus C Carbon.

+ Two sides of Fechner’s Medal – Investigating differences in the experience of design objects depending on personal narratives vs formal descriptions

The discussion about the role of emotions in the field of industrial design has grown exponentially over recent years. Emotional Design emerged as the effort to promote positive emotions or pleasure in users by means of design properties of products and services. But how exactly do we experience a design object? Is it simply object perception? Or does individual experience of a design object emerge from integrating current impressions and evoked associations? Narratives seem to offer interesting starting points here due to their mode of action. Applications already exist in the areas of product marketing and development of products and services (e.g., user stories, persona, and customer journey). Empirical research on design objects, in contrast, still follows a more object-based approach, relatable to Fechner’s idea of “aesthetics from below”. With the present work, we aim to stronger include Fechner’s “aesthetic association principle” in design research as well. We implement and compare the effects of methods guiding into object-based versus associative modes of perception via prompting descriptive versus narrative interactions of perceivers with design objects.

Olivia McConnell and Rebecca Chamberlain.

+ Expertise and Embodiment of Drawing Movements

Traces of gesture and movement are plentiful in visual art: from sweeping brushstrokes to vigorous scribbles they allude to the actions and intentions of the artist. Artwork that is absent of these dynamic gestures has lower aesthetic appeal (e.g. Umilta et al. 2012) and aesthetic appreciation can be enhanced when the viewer is encouraged to accesses these movements through embodiment (e.g. performing the gesture used by the artist; Ticini et al., 2014). These movements must be perceived as possible to replicate, with drawing expertise increasing this sensitivity to movement plausibility (Chamberlain et al., 2022) Indeed, embodied aesthetic posits that the apperception of static art is dependent on the stimulation of the sensorimotor cortex. However, to date no study has assessed the neural correlates associated with individual differences in aesthetic appreciation and movement plausibility. The present EEG study will compare art students (n=20) and non-art students (n=20) behavioural and neural responses to computer-generated graffiti tags derived from biologically plausible and non-plausible movement models (established by Chamberlain et al., 2022). We expect that (a) naturalistic graffiti tags will be evaluated more highly and associated with increased mu rhythm suppression and (b) drawing experience – both long-term through expertise and short-term through priming – will positively relate to mu rhythm suppression and aesthetic evaluation. Participants will be presented with the graffiti tags in a laboratory ( in half of the trails they will be asked to replicate the movement) before aesthetically evaluating each tag. The mu rhythm suppression will be analysed alongside one between-subject factor (drawing expertise, experts vs non-experts) and two within-subject factors (drawing movement, replicated vs not replicated, and movement plausibility, biologically plausible vs non-plausible).