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Visual interest in pictorial art during an aesthetic experience

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

Two experiments were performed during which adults untrained in the visual arts were shown digital versions of eight paintings by renowned artists. In Experiment 1 participants' written reactions following a single 100 ms glance at each work were found to overwhelmingly reflect an initial holistic impression (i.e. gist) of the structural arrangement and semantic meaning of the paintings. In the second experiment participants' eye movements and verbal reactions were recorded as they evaluated each reproduction for pleasingness. Analyses reveal the relationships between the content and structural organization of the art stimuli and the way viewers select, process and think about information contained in paintings across the time course of an aesthetic experience. The results are interpreted in terms of an information-processing stage model of visual aesthetics according to which perceptual-cognitive processing of an art stimulus begins with the rapid generation of a gist reaction followed by scrutiny of pictorial features directed in a top-down fashion by cognitively-based evaluative processes.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ 07043, USA; 2: Department of Psychology, Telemedicine and Radiology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA; 3: Department of Radiology and Training Program of Biomedical Informatics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA; 4: Department of Radiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA


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