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Thread: Visual appeal

  1. #1 Visual appeal 
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    Hi all,
    Please allow me to start by saying I am not a scientist or knowledgeable person, so pardon my terminology. I have recently started practicing deep thinking and introspection, so I keep thinking about myself and come up with some questions (as to why we humans do this, how do we stop such kind of behaviour, etc.). Anyway to the question now:-
    Why do certain aesthetics, art and designs appear visually appealing to us over the others? What are the decision making parties (in our brain) that control our choice.
    For example: Why don't we like a person wearing yellow coat, blue pant and red shoes.
    Why do we like BMW 323i over 70s model Toyota (purely from visual appeal, ignoring features and enhancements).
    Why do men like a young, hot and sharp-featured women over a simple women

    As a child I read these quotes
    1. Simplicity is the best policy
    2. Beauty lies in the beholder's eye
    Why are we not able to prefer "simple" things over more visually appealing things. I need to understand the psychological agents that control this visual appeal.
    Thanks


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  3. #2  
    Forum Masters Degree DianeG's Avatar
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    While not attempting to scientifically define what is or isn't art, some neuroscientists have looked at what the brain responds to or finds aesthetically pleasing or interesting, and the possible biological or evolutionary reasons for it. They also look at aesthetic principles that seem be common to art in most cultures. Semir Zeki, a neuroscientist at University College of London calls this "neuroesthectics." VS Ramachandran has two chapters about it in his book "The Tell-tale Brain."

    Some aspects Ramachadran discusses include: 1) grouping 2) peak shift 3) contrast 4) isolation 5) Peekaboo or perceptual problem solving 6) abhorrence of coincidences 7) orderliness 8) Symmetry and 9) metaphor.

    I won't attempt to discuss each of these individually. But basically, the brain enjoys the Aha! feeling of recognition, of interesting but not overly confusing patterns or contrasts. Our brains are wired for this because it has served us well in evolution - being able to spot the red berries on a green bush or see the camouflaged stripped tiger in the tall grass.

    Art sometimes extracts or isolates one particular element of visual experience (such as line or color) enhancing our brain's delicious response to it. Ramachandran explains it this way:

    "A sketch can be more effective because because there is an attentional bottle neck in the brain. You can pay attention to only one aspect at a time. Even though your brain has 100 billion nerve cells, only a small subset of them can be active at a given instant. In the dynamics of perception, one stable percept (perceived image) automatically excludes others. Overlapping patterns of neural activity and the neural networks in your brain constantly compete for limited attentional resources. Thus when you look at a full color picture, your attention is distracted by the clutter of texture and other details in the image. But a sketch of the same object allows you to allocate all of your attentional resources to the outline, where the action is.
    Conversely, if an artist wants to evoke the rasa of color by introducing peak shifts and ultra-normal stimuli in color space, then she would be better off playing down the outlines. She might de-emphasize boundaries, deliberately smudging the outlines or leaving them out entirely. This reduces the competitive bid from outlines on your attentional resources, freeing up your brain to focus on color space. That is what Van Gogh and Monet do. It's called impressionism."


    Last edited by DianeG; April 4th, 2014 at 12:59 AM.
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    Forum Masters Degree LuciDreaming's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tobymick View Post
    Hi all,
    Please allow me to start by saying I am not a scientist or knowledgeable person, so pardon my terminology. I have recently started practicing deep thinking and introspection, so I keep thinking about myself and come up with some questions (as to why we humans do this, how do we stop such kind of behaviour, etc.). Anyway to the question now:-
    Why do certain aesthetics, art and designs appear visually appealing to us over the others? What are the decision making parties (in our brain) that control our choice.
    For example: Why don't we like a person wearing yellow coat, blue pant and red shoes.
    Why do we like BMW 323i over 70s model Toyota (purely from visual appeal, ignoring features and enhancements).
    Why do men like a young, hot and sharp-featured women over a simple women

    As a child I read these quotes
    1. Simplicity is the best policy
    2. Beauty lies in the beholder's eye
    Why are we not able to prefer "simple" things over more visually appealing things. I need to understand the psychological agents that control this visual appeal.
    Thanks
    As a starter I would suggest you substitute your 'we' for 'I' - you cant speak for everyone, your biases and preferences are entirely your own. Of course you will find groups of people who like the same things you do but dont mistake that for everyone.
    scoobydoo1 likes this.
    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" Nietzsche.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Masters Degree DianeG's Avatar
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    Some biologists go so far as to speculate that certain aesthetic principles are common to both human and other animals, and are not simply the result of culture. For example, is it a coincidence that we find flowers to be beautiful even though they were designed to be attractive to bees? Or that the bright feathers meant to attract female birds have been used as decorative head dresses by homo sapians?

    An interesting example of animal aesthetics are the elaborate nests that male bowerbirds construct to attract a mate. The nests employ many of the same elements of grouping and contrast you see in art. On different parts of the arching nest, the male bower will arrange clusters of flowers, sorts berries of different types of by color, add gleaming bits of shell or bone, create designs with pebbles, and even incorporate man made items, like cigarette foil, or shards of glass. One picture of a nest I saw had a pink paper clip and red yarn, and another one had bright blue clothes pins. They are fun to look at, anyway.
    Animal Architects: Bowerbirds Design & Build Showy, Colorful Homes to Attract Mates - Core77
    http://timlaman.photoshelter.com/gal...00sfGs8PeUChc/
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  6. #5  
    Forum Masters Degree DianeG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post

    As a starter I would suggest you substitute your 'we' for 'I' - you cant speak for everyone, your biases and preferences are entirely your own. Of course you will find groups of people who like the same things you do but dont mistake that for everyone.
    True, there are individual and cultural preferences. There has certainly been condescending interpretations of "primitive" art, and dominant groups have sometimes labeled the art of others as inferior or "degenerate." Still, I'm surprised how well visual art does transcend cultural lines, and people are able to appreciate the beauty in a neolithic cave painting, or the intricate mosaic tiles of mosques, Inuit carvings, or a Japanese ink painting - despite having very little in common with the people who created them.
    scoobydoo1 likes this.
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