Sensation and perception in visual art

Mather, George and Lee, Robert (2018) Sensation and perception in visual art. In: Vision Science of Art Conference, 24-26 August 2018, Trieste, Italy.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Keynote)
Item Status:Live Archive


Vision science can help us to understand visual art, and the study of art can in turn open up new avenues for scientific investigation. Art is therefore an ideal ‘real-world’ context in which to engage students in discussions about perception, and about psychology more broadly. The distinction between sensation and perception is often taught in psychology courses, but receives little attention in current research. It is particularly useful to discuss the distinction in the context of visual art. Many artworks rely on sensory qualities for their impact on viewers. Sensations of colour, depth, movement, lightness, texture and so on are foregrounded in Op Art (e.g. Duchamp, Riley, Sedgley), in abstract art more broadly (e.g. Cruz-Diez, Pollock, Rothko) and in some large-scale installations (e.g. Balka, Höller, Turrell). Representational art draws in higher-level perceptual and cognitive experiences mediated by recognisable human, animal and made forms in complex visual scenes, though this art also often makes subtle use of sensory qualities such as scale, salience and complementarity (Escher, van Gogh, Raphael, Seurat, Vermeer). Interactive demonstrations and exercises are a very effective way to show students the powerful sensory and perceptual tools available to artists, and so deepen their appreciation of the close links between vision science and art.

Keywords:Visual perception, Visual art
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:33414
Deposited On:19 Oct 2018 20:30

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