Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

SeIns: Semantic Instability in Art

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Art & Perception

Many artworks defy determinacy of meaning by inducing a variety of potential meanings. We aim to describe different kinds of such semantic instability (which we call ‘SeIns’) by comparing related concepts as well as specific phenomena in order to arrive at concise definitions. These analyses will be positioned in the framework of Predictive Coding. Furthermore, this article fathoms the specifics of semantic instability in art and presents a psycho-aesthetic account on the appeal of semantic instability in art. We propose that one factor for the appeal of semantic instability might be that it offers the opportunity of rewarding insight. Furthermore, we suggest that positive affect can be gained not only by arriving at an insight but also by anticipating it — a crucial point with regard to those kinds of semantic instability that are not ‘resolvable’ into semantic stability. Current challenges within this field of research include the necessity of an empirical approach to classes of semantic instability, the lack of a specification of psycho-aesthetic theories on the appeal of each class, as well as the need for an integration of context- and person-related facets of the experience of art.

Loading data from figshare Loading data from figshare

Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Adorno T. W . (1970/1973). Ästhetische Theorie . Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
2. Albrecht S. , and Carbon C. C. (2014). "The Fluency Amplification Model: Fluent stimuli show more intense but not evidently more positive evaluations". Acta Psychol. Vol 148, 195203.
3. Apter M. J. (1989). "Reversal theory: A new approach to motivation, emotion and personality". Anu. Psicol. Vol 42, 1729.
4. Armstrong T. , and Detweiler-Bedell B. (2008). "Beauty as an emotion: The exhilarating prospect of mastering a challenging world". Rev. Gen. Psychol. Vol 12, 305329.
5. Barto A. ,, Mirolli M. ,, and Detweiler-Bedell B. (2008). "Novelty or Surprise?" Front. Psychol. Vol 4. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00907.
6. Belke B. ,, Leder H. ,, and Carbon C. C. (2015). "When challenging art gets liked: Evidences for a dual preference formation process for fluent and non-fluent portraits". ploS one Vol 10, e0131796. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138962.
7. Belke B. ,, Leder H. ,, Harsanyi G. ,, and Carbon C. C. (2010). "When a Picasso is a “Picasso”: The entry point in the identification of visual art". Acta Psychol. Vol 133, 191202.
8. Berlyne D. E. (1971). Aesthetics and Psychobiology , Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York, NY, USA.
9. Biederman I. ,, and Vessel E. A. (2006). "Perceptual pleasure and the brain". Am. Sci. Vol 94, 249255.
10. Blijlevens J. ,, Carbon C. C. ,, Mugge R. ,, and Schoormans J. P. (2012). "Aesthetic appraisal of product designs: Independent effects of typicality and arousal". Br. J. Psycholo. Vol 103, 4457.
11. Bornstein R. F. (1989). "Exposure and affect: Overview and meta-analysis of research, 1968–1987". Psychol. Bull. Vol 106, 265289.
12. Bourdieu P. (1984). Distinction — A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste , Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.
13. Bourriaud N. (1998). Relational Aesthetics , Les Presses du Réel, Dijon, France.
14. Brieber D. ,, Nadal M. ,, Leder H. ,, and Rosenberg R. (2014). "Art in time and space: Context modulates the relation between art experience and viewing time". ploS one Vol 9, e99019. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099019.
15. Burke E. (1757). A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful , Dodsley, London, UK.
16. Burwick F. , (1990). "The grotesque: Illusion vs. delusion", in Aesthetic illusion. Theoretical and historical approaches , Burwick F. , and Pape W. (Eds), pp. 122132, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, Germany.
17. Carbon C. C. (2010). "The earth is flat when personally significant experiences with the sphericity of the earth are absent". Cognition Vol 116, 130135.
18. Carbon C. C. (2014). "Understanding human perception by human-made illusions". Front. Hum. Neurosci. Vol 8, 16. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00566.
19. Carbon C. C. , and Jakesch M. (2013). "A model for haptic aesthetic processing and its implications for design". Proc. ieee Vol 101, 21232133.
20. Carbon C. C. , and Leder H. (2005). "The Repeated Evaluation Technique (ret): A method to capture dynamic effects of innovativeness and attractiveness". Appl. Cogn. Psychol. Vol 19, 587601.
21. Carbon C. C. ,, Faerber S. J. ,, Gerger G. ,, Forster M. ,, and Leder H. (2013). "Innovation is appreciated when we feel safe: On the situational dependence of the appreciation of innovation". Int. J. Design Vol 7, 4351.
22. Chetverikov A. (2013). "Warmth of familiarity and chill of error: Affective consequences of recognition decisions". Cogn. Emot. Vol 28, 385415.
23. Chetverikov A. , and Filippova M. (2014). "How to tell a wife from a hat: Affective feedback in perceptual categorization". Acta Psychol. Vol 151, 206213.
24. Clark A. (2013). "Whatever next? Predictive brains, situated agents, and the future of cognitive science". Behav. Brain Sci. Vol 36, 181204.
25. Consoli G. (2015). "Creativity and aesthetic evaluation". Two proposals to improve the model of aesthetic dis/fluency. Front. Psychol. Vol 5. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01520.
26. Dallenbach K. M. (1951). "A puzzle-picture with a new principle of concealment". Am. J. Psychol. Vol 64, 431433.
27. Di Paolo E. ,, Rohde M. ,, and De Jaegher H. , (2007). "Horizons for the enactive mind: Values, social interaction and play", in Enaction: Towards a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science , Stewart J. ,, Gapenne O. , and Paolo E. D. (Eds), pp. 3388, MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA.
28. Dörner D. , and Vehrs W. (1975). "Ästhetische Befriedigung und Unbestimmtheitsreduktion". Psychol. Forsch. Vol 37, 321334.
29. Eco U. (1989). The Open Work , Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.
30. Faerber S. J. ,, Leder H. ,, Gerger G. ,, and Carbon C. C. (2010). "Priming semantic concepts affects the dynamics of aesthetic appreciation". Acta Psychol. Vol 135, 191200.
31. Fiedler K. (1887). Der Ursprung der künstlerischen Thätigkeit . Retrieved from .
32. Fost J. W. (1999). "Neural rhythmicity, feature binding, and serotonin". A hypothesis. Neuroscientist ,Vol 5, 7985.
33. Friston K. (2005). "A theory of cortical responses". Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Vol 360, 815836.
34. Friston K. ,, Thornton C. ,, and Clark A. (2012). "Free-energy minimization and the dark-room problem". Front. Psychol. Vol 3. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00130.
35. Gamboni D. (2002). Potential Images: Ambiguity and Indeterminacy in Modern Art , Reaktion Books, London, UK.
36. Gaver W. W. ,, Beaver J. ,, and Benford S. (2003). Ambiguity as a resource for design, Proc. SIGCHI Conf. Human Factors in Computing Systems, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA.
37. Gibson J. J. (1986). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception , Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, USA.
38. Gombrich E. H. (1950/2002). Die Geschichte der Kunst , Phaidon, Berlin, Germany.
39. Gombrich E. H. (1960/2002). Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation (5th ed.), Phaidon Press, Oxford, UK.
40. Gregory R. L. (1970). The Intelligent Eye , Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, UK.
41. Gregory R. L. (1980). "Perceptions as hypotheses". Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Vol 290, 181197.
42. Hall J. (2014). The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History , Thames & Hudson, London, UK.
43. Hekkert P. (2006). "Design aesthetics: Principles of pleasure in design". Psychol. Sci. Vol 48, 157172.
44. Hohwy J. ,, Roepstorff A. ,, and Friston K. (2008). "Predictive coding explains binocular rivalry: An epistemological review". Cognition Vol 108, 687701.
45. Hyman J. , (2010). "Art and Neuroscience", in Beyond Mimesis and Convention , Frigg R. , and Hunter M. (Eds), pp. 245261, Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
46. Ishai A. ,, Fairhall S. L. ,, and Pepperell R. (2007). "Perception, memory and aesthetics of indeterminate art". Brain Res. Bull. Vol 73, 319°324.
47. Jakesch M. , and Carbon C. C. (2012). "The mere exposure effect in the domain of haptics". ploS one Vol 7, e31215. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031215.
48. Jakesch M. , and Leder H. (2009). "Finding meaning in art: Preferred levels of ambiguity in art appreciation". Q. J. Exp. Psychol. Vol 62, 21052112.
49. Jakesch M. ,, Leder H. ,, and Forster M. (2013). "Image ambiguity and fluency". ploS one Vol 8, e74084. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074084.
50. James L. J. (1962). Effects of Repeated Stimulation on Cognitive Aspects of Behaviour. Some Experiments on the Phenomenon of Semantic Satiation . Doctoral dissertation, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.
51. Kaplan A. , and Kris E. (1948). "Esthetic ambiguity". Philos. Phenomenol. Res. Vol 8, 415435.
52. Kesner L. (2014). "The predictive mind and the experience of visual art work". Front. Psychol. Vol 5, 1417. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01417.
53. Konečni V. I. (2005). "The aesthetic trinity: Awe, being moved, thrills". Bull. Psychol. Arts Vol 5, 2744.
54. Krieger V. , (2010). "“At war with the obvious” – Kulturen der Ambiguität. Historische, psychologische und ästhetische Dimensionen des Mehrdeutigen", in: Ambiguität und Kunst — Typen und Funktionen eines ästhetischen Paradigmas , Krieger V. , and Mader R. (Eds), pp. 1350, Böhlau, Wien, Austria.
55. Kubovy M. (1994). "The perceptual organization of dot lattices". Psychonom. Bull. Rev. Vol 1, 182190.
56. Leopold D. A. , and Logothetis N. K. (1999). "Multistable phenomena: Changing views in perception". Trends Cogn. Sci. Vol 3, 254264.
57. Ludden G. D. S. ,, Schifferstein H. N. J. ,, and Hekkert P. (2012). "Beyond surprise: A longitudinal study on the experience of visual-tactual incongruities in products". Int. J. Design Vol 6, 110.
58. Majetschak S. , (2003). "Die Modernisierung des Blicks. Über ein sehtheoretisches Motiv am Anfang der modernen Kunst", in: Die Kunst der Wahrnehmung. Beiträge zu einer Philosophie der sinnlichen Erkenntnis , Hauskeller M. (Ed.), pp. 298349, Die graue Edition, Kusterdingen, Germany.
59. Mamassian P. (2008). "Ambiguities and conventions in the perception of visual art". Vis. Res. Vol 48, 21432153.
60. Meinhardt J. (1997). Ende der Malerei und Malerei nach dem Ende der Malerei , Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, Germany.
61. Muth C. , and Carbon C. C. (2012). "There's more than one way to irritation! An attempt to categorize ambiguity in art". Perception Vol 41 (Suppl.), 233.
62. Muth C. , and Carbon C. C. (2013). "The Aesthetic Aha: On the pleasure of having insights into Gestalt". Acta Psychol. Vol 144, 2530.
63. Muth C. ,, Pepperell R. ,, and Carbon C. C. (2013). "Give me Gestalt! Preference for cubist artworks revealing high detectability of objects". Leonardo Vol 46, 488489.
64. Muth C. ,, Raab M. ,, and Carbon C. C. (2015). "The stream of experience when watching artistic movies. Dynamic aesthetic effects revealed by the continuous evaluation procedure (cep)". Front. Psychol. Vol 6. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00365.
65. Muth C. ,, Hesslinger V. ,, and Carbon C. C. (2015). "The appeal of challenge in the perception of art: How ambiguity, solvability of ambiguity and the opportunity for insight affect appreciation". Psychol. Aesthet. Creat. Arts Vol 9, 206216.
66. Noë A. (2000). "Experience and experiment in art". J. Conscious. Stud. Vol 7, 123136.
67. Noë A. (2012). Varieties of Presence , Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.
68. O’Regan and Noë, A. (2001). "A sensorimotor account of vision and visual consciousness". Behav. Brain Sci. Vol 24, 9391031.
69. Pepperell R. (2006). "Seeing without objects: Visual indeterminacy and art". Leonardo Vol 39, 394400.
70. Pepperell R. (2015). "Artworks as dichotomous objects: implications for the scientific study of aesthetic experience". Front. Hum. Neurosci. Vol 9. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00295.
71. Ramachandran V. S. , and Hirstein W. (1999). "The science of art: A neurological theory of aesthetic experience". J. Conscious. Stud. Vol 6, 1551.
72. Reber R. ,, Schwarz N. ,, and Winkielman P. (2004). "Processing fluency and aesthetic pleasure: Is beauty in the perceiver’s processing experience?" Pers Soc Psychol Rev Vol 8, 364382.
73. Reis J. (1996). Inventar zur Messung der Ambiguitätstoleranz , Asanger, Heidelberg, Germany.
74. Shklovsky V. , (1917/2002). "From ‘art as technique’", in Art in Theory 1900–2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas , Harrison C. , and Wood P. (Eds), pp. 277281, Wiley-Blackwell, Cornwall, UK.
75. Silvia P. J. (2006). Exploring the Psychology of Interest , Oxford University Press, New York, NY, USA.
76. Topolinski S. ,, and Reber R. (2010). "Gaining insight into the “Aha” Experience". Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. Vol 19, 402405.
77. Van de Cruys S. , and Wagemans J. (2011). "Putting reward in art: A tentative prediction error account of visual art". i-Perception Vol 2, 10351062. doi: 10.1068/i0466aap.
78. Varela F. J. ,, Rosch E. ,, and Thompson E. (1991). The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience , MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.
79. von Helmholtz H. (1866). Handbuch der physiologischen Optik: mit 213 in den Text eingedruckten Holzschnitten und 11 Tafeln , Voss, Leipzig, Germany.
80. von Uexküll J. (1909). Umwelt und Innenwelt der Tiere , J. Springer, Berlin, Germany.
81. Vygotsky L. (1976). Psychologie der Kunst , VEB Verlag der Kunst, Dresden, Germany.
82. Winkielman P. ,, Schwarz N. ,, Fazendeiro T. ,, and Reber R. , (2003). "The hedonic marking of processing fluency: Implications for evaluative judgment", in The Psychology of Evaluation: Affective Processes in Cognition and Emotion , Musch J. , and Klauer K. C. (Eds), pp. 189217, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ, USA.
83. Wittmann B. C. ,, Bunzeck N. ,, Dolan R. J. ,, and Düzel E. (2007). "Anticipation of novelty recruits reward system and hippocampus while promoting recollection". NeuroImage Vol 38, 194202.
84. Wollheim R. (1982). Objekte der Kunst , Suhrkamp, Frankfurt, Germany.
85. Wolz S. , and Carbon C. C. (2014). "What’s wrong with an art fake? Cognitive and emotional variables influenced by authenticity status of artworks". Leonardo Vol 47, 467473.
86. Zajonc R. B. (1968). "Attitudinal effects of mere-exposure". J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. Vol 9, 127.
87. Zeki S. (2004). "The neurology of ambiguity". Conscious. Cogn. Vol 13, 173196.

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Art & Perception — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation