The neuroaesthetics of implied motion perception in visual art

    Project: Research

    Project Details


    For centuries, the representation of movement in static images has been a challenge for all imagemakers. Artists, however, discovered how to exploit the visual form, in order to produce a sense of motion in paintings or sculptures (Gombrich, 1964). Indeed, still images have incorporated implied motion cues, such as broken symmetry, stroboscopic effects, forward lean and action lines (Cutting, 2002). The so-called ‘contrapposto’ is an example of broken symmetry representing subtle motion in artworks. Contrapposto refers to a pose in which body weight rests on one leg, with the other leg bent at the knee, suggesting a broken balance that provides a subtle motion cue (Summers, 1977). Although artists have long known how to manipulate motion to create an aesthetically pleasing image, the cognitive and neural mechanisms of aesthetic experience are only just beginning to be explored.

    This PhD project aims to bring together insight from the history of art, which documents how aesthetic experience has been manipulated over centuries, with contemporary approaches from psychology and neuroscience. This research will investigate the following research questions:
    1.To what extent and in which ways does viewing art scenes depicting implied human body dynamics depend on artistic experience?
    2.To what extent is aesthetic appreciation a result of automatic or controlled processes?
    3.How do functionally distinct brain networks interact during the appreciation of motion in artworks?
    Effective start/end date1/10/1830/09/22