More than the sum of its parts: perceiving complexity in painting
(Laura Commare, Department of Art History, University of Vienna)
Over the last decades, image complexity has been discussed as one of the predominant predictors for liking and interest in images, patterns and artworks. Since the 1960’s most studies have equated image complexity with visual complexity. They understood image complexity as formal aspect of art, as objective visual property that artworks may hold, which is comprised of number, variety and organization of visual elements. This ‘traditional’ concept of image complexity is however challenged by other studies in psychology, which suggest that for artworks objective measures of visual complexity do not represent perceived image complexity adequately. That is to say, the subjectively felt difficulty in processing visual input as expressed in self-reports differs from what objective measures of visual complexity predict. Most recent studies offer a possible explanation for this discrepancy by showing that perceived image complexity is at least to some degree dependent on content-related processing.
My work takes up on these findings and investigates the actual relation of content-related processing and perceived image complexity in painting. I study if and how semantic image aspects contribute to assigned image complexity from an interdisciplinary perspective, by combining psychological accounts on aesthetic appreciation, art historical theory and predictive coding accounts stemming from cognitive science.
(The lecture will be held at the Dpt of Logic, Celetná 20, room no. 119, at 5pm.)