Laboratory of Experimental Psychology
University of Leuven, Belgium
What is missing for a proper visual science of art?
Science and art are obviously two different entities. Although there have been many different kinds of interaction in the past, I will argue that a proper visual science of art – where both are taken equally seriously – is still not standard practice. I will discuss some reasons of why this is the case and some suggestions for ways forward. In a nutshell, I will argue that visual science needs to be considered more broadly, extending the standard psychophysical paradigm to include more phenomenology and more of the richer aspects of true aesthetic experiences. More specifically, works of art are more than a “stimulus” and what we are interested in as a “response” is much more-dimensional than what we usually measure in the lab. But that does not mean that we have to give up doing science. I will illustrate these general points with some examples of recent research from our own research program. In addition, I will argue that a proper visual science of art needs to include the artist as much as possible. Visual artists have amazingly good intuitions about what they are doing in terms of vision in several respects: what they themselves perceive, what others perceive, and what they need to do to yield visual pleasure. I will also illustrate these points by discussing a few examples of artist-scientist collaborations. My hope is that this will stimulate more people to move in this riskier but more rewarding direction.