The relationship between visual illusion and aesthetic preference – an attempt to unify experimental phenomenology and empirical aesthetics

Axiomathes 13 (3-4):261-281 (2003)
Abstract
Experimental phenomenology has demonstrated that perception is much richer than stimulus. As is seen in color perception, one and the same stimulus provides more than several modes of appearance or perceptual dimensions. Similarly, there are various perceptual dimensions in form perception. Even a simple geometrical figure inducing visual illusion gives not only perceptual impressions of size, shape, slant, depth, and orientation, but also affective or aesthetic impressions. The present study reviews our experimental phenomenological work on visual illusion and experimental aesthetics, and examines how aesthetic preference is influenced by stimulus factors determining visual illusions including anomalous surface and transparency as well as geometrical illusion. Along with line figures producing geometrical illusions, illusory surface figures inducing neon color spreading and transparency effects were used as test patterns. Participants made both of psychophysical judgments and of aesthetic judgments for the same test pattern. Both of geometrical illusions and aesthetic preferences were found to change similarly as a function of stimulus variables such as the number of filling lines and the size ratio of the inner and outer figural components. Also, following specific stimulus variables such as lightness contrast ratio and spatial interval between inducing figural elements (so called ``packmen''), strong effects of color spreading and transparency were accompanied with strong preferences. It seems that the paradigm to investigate aesthetic phenomena along with perceptual dimensions is useful to bridge the gap between experimental phenomenology and experimental aesthetics.
Keywords aesthetic preference  anomalous (subjective) surface  experimental (empirical) aesthetics  experimental phenomenology  perceived transparency  visual illusion
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