Session 2

Photograph experience which deepens an understanding of an image - Development of the website with the photographs of the Nakagawa canal

Yota Shoji, Kiyofumi Motoyama and Shingo Sadakuni

It is said today that we are overflowed by the photographic image, with 140 billion photographs existing now on Facebook alone. While a photograph is a familiar method of expression, often it remains in the subject of seeing somehow. Recently, we explored this conception, conducting a workshop with already taken photographs at the Nakagawa canal, an industrial heritage site of Nagoya, Japan. In this program, participants experienced the photograph over several hours by looking intensely and arranging them into multiple stages, considered the diversity of the printed works and the significance of their differences. In this presentation, we discuss a website, based on the previous workshop, to experience photographs more aesthetically, and provide an interactive analogical experience based on visual perception. Photographs are divided into parts, with a user able to slide to a next photograph which has a similar characteristic--based on the elements of composition, color, focus and blurring--by clicking any point. We produced the interface with knowledge of information design, and referring to the cognitive characteristics of web interaction, allowing the possibility of tracing the evidence of others. The ultimate goal of this study is to consider the meaning of photograph literacy and its acquisition.

Imitation, inspiration and creation: Cognitive process of creative drawing by copying others' artworks

Kentaro Ishibashi and Takeshi Okada

Through three experiments, this study investigates the effect on people's creative drawing of their interaction with artworks by others. In experiment 1, we discover that through copying unfamiliar abstract drawings, the participants produced creative drawings that were different from the model drawings. An analysis of the process shows that their realistic constraints became relaxed and new perspectives were formed through the imitation of others' artwork. During this process, they changed their internal representations of drawing and generated new signs (symbols). Thus, their drawings became more creative after imitation. We conducted two further experiments to clarify the effect of the style of the model artworks and the type of interaction with the artworks. In Experiment 2, we manipulated the familiarity with the model artwork that people copied. The results show that an unfamiliar style of artworks facilitates creativity in drawing, while familiar styles of artwork suppress it. In Experiment 3, we manipulated the type of interaction with the artworks. The results show that viewing and copying an unfamiliar style of artwork facilitates creativity in drawing, while just thinking about alternative ways of drawing does not.

On the association between abstract symmetry and valence

Marco Bertamini, Alexis Makin and Anna Pecchinenda

Many authors have suggested that symmetry and beauty are linked, but how fast and automatic is the human response to abstract symmetry? We used the IAT (Implicit Association Test) to measure the valence of visual regularities in the absence of overt judgments. Participants classified dot patterns as random or having a reflection, and words as positive or negative. When the same response was used to report reflection and positive words, responses were faster than when the same response was used for reflection and negative words. In addition there was an implicit preference for rotation over random and for reflection over rotation and over translation (Makin et al. 2012 Emotion, online first). In another set of studies we used the priming paradigm, in which a brief presentation of an abstract pattern was followed by a word with positive or negative valence. Passive presentation of regular patterns did not lead to significant congruency effect (affective priming), but the priming emerged when participants had to report on the characteristics of the prime. Taking these results together, response competition shows an automatic association between symmetry and positive valence as long as classification of the visual regularity is part of the task.

Image preference and visual statistics

George Mather

Images of natural scenes have been found to display regular visual statistics, conventionally measured in terms of the slope of the rotationally averaged Fourier amplitude spectrum. The visual system may have evolved to take advantage of these regularities during processing. Recent studies indicate that paintings display similar statistical regularities to natural scenes, leading to the suggestion that artists adjust the visual statistics of their work to match those which are most prevalent in natural scenes. As a test of this idea, the statistical properties of fourteen paintings by well-known artists were compared to those of corresponding photographic images depicting the same scenes. The statistics of the artworks were found to gravitate towards the most prevalent values found in natural images. To test whether observers actually prefer images displaying the most prevalent statistics, photographs of natural scenes were manipulated digitally to create versions with different statistics, and observers made forced choice preference judgements between pairs of images displaying different statistics. As predicted, results showed that images displaying the most prevalent statistical values were preferred over those displaying more extreme values. Data are therefore consistent with the proposal that image preferences are influenced by natural visual statistics.

Accounting for Taste: Individual Differences in Preference for Harmony

Stephen Palmer and William Griscom

Although empirical research into aesthetics has had some success in explaining the average preferences of groups of observers, relatively little is known about individual differences. In this study we highlight one prominent dimension of aesthetic response -- preference for harmonious stimuli -- and look at how it varies in four domains (color, shape, spatial location, and music) across individuals with different levels of training in art and music. We found that individual preference for harmony is strongly correlated across all four dimensions tested, and decreases consistently with level of training in relevant domains. We modeled these results using confirmatory factor analysis and found that cross-domain preference-for-harmony is well-represented as a single unified factor, with effects separate from those of training and common personality measures.

Occlusion Depiction in Australian Aboriginal Painting

Barbara Gillam

Successfully depicting the occlusion of a far surface by a nearer surface is an issue in two-dimensional paintings. Yet although artists' use of linear perspective has received a great deal of attention from psychologists interested in art, their depiction of occlusion and its uses for aesthetic purposes have received almost none. It is also rarely acknowledged that depicted occlusions are common in abstract and other non-representational forms of art. Since the 1970s Australian Aboriginal art has been recognized as more than a folk art with central desert paintings in particular having major success in international exhibitions as a striking form of modern art. Yet discussion is almost entirely restricted to the stories underlying the paintings; not the visual basis of their impact. Here I'll show the sophisticated depiction of occlusion by Aboriginal painters of non-realistic scenes and discuss the way it is used to represent aspects of their stories and to create highly original aesthetic effects and symbolic meaning. In doing so I'll refer to aspects of the psychology of figure-ground, occlusion perception and subjective contours. The two major forms I shall demonstrate and discuss are the bark paintings of eastern Arnhem Land and the paintings of the central desert.