I am a PhD-student at the GestaltReVision research program from the Laboratory for Experimental Psychology at the University of Leuven. Concretely, I study temporal dynamics in the aesthetic processing of photography.
Can you still imagine a world without photography? On a daily basis, we all encounter countless photographs: from newspapers and websites, to advertisement billboards, family albums, art exhibitions and, of course, social media. Not only are we looking at these photographs, we are also judging them: we find some photographs more beautiful, pleasant or interesting than others.
Despite photography’s large role in our current visual and cultural environment, surprisingly little is known about how we are ‘reading’ photographs and aesthetically reacting to them. Contrary to the ease with which we make aesthetic judgments, understanding how they develop is more difficult. Aesthetic reactions are the result of characteristics of the photograph and psychological processes in the viewer (perception, cognition, emotion) unfolding in close interaction with each other over time.
The current project will start from a theoretical framework and zoom in on certain key temporal aspects in our aesthetic processing of photographs. Each aspect will be studied with the methodology that best fits its understanding (experimentally controlled vs. qualitative, hypothesis-testing vs. explorative, lab vs. museum; preference ratings vs. eye tracking studies, novices vs. experts, etc.). With this, we hope to shed new light on our understanding of how we are looking at – and responding to – photography.
Vissers, N., Moors, P., Guiot, V., Delcourt, S., Genin, D., & Wagemans, J. (2017). Looking for the edge of attractive chaos in a series of semi-abstract images by Dominique Genin. Visual Science of Art Conference (VSAC), Berlin, Germany
empirical aesthetics; dynamics in aesthetic processing; photography; art perception