People viewing art have clear expectations for the direction of apparent motion in still images such as artwork. Walker asked, “What artistic conventions are used to convey the motion of animate and inanimate items in still images, such as drawings and photographs?” He reports that “One graphic convention involves depicting items leaning forward into their movement, with greater leaning conveying greater speed. . . . people . . . expect to see, or prefer to see, lateral movement (real or implied) in a left to right direction, rather than a right to left direction. .
Whether it’s subtle or dramatic, large or small, abstract or realistic, or something else entirely, visual art has a significant influence on the experience of being in a space. What have researchers learned about how it can increase our mental and physical wellbeing?
It’s easy to forget that varying levels of technical sophistication have allowed us to produce different dyes, paints, and coloring agents at different times in our history. In a sumptuously illustrated, fun-to-read, well-researched text, Finlay details the evolving use of color in visual art. Her material is particularly interesting in light of research reported in Research Design Connections linking color saturation and brightness to mood.
Stellar and her colleagues have linked feeling awe with lower inflammation levels throughout the body. As they report “awe, measured in two different ways, was the strongest predictor of lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines.” This is important because “Chronically elevated levels of proinflammatory cytokines in the absence of illness or injury can lead to negative health outcomes. . . .
Recent research provides insights useful to people selecting art. Via a study that will be published in Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, a team led by Anke Karl learned that “Being shown pictures of others being loved and cared for reduces the brain’s response to threat. . . .
Successfully adding public art to a space is challenging
Is abstract art sometimes OK in healthcare facilities?
Research by Newman, Bartels, and Smith sheds light on why we become so attached to artworks. They learned that “art objects are seen as physical extensions of their creators.” A press release issued by Topics in Cognitive Science, quotes study author Newman: "’One prediction that comes out of this idea is that artwork that seems like it has really had a lot of close physical contact with the artist, i.e., you can see evidence of his or her 'hand,' may be preferred to art where that direct physical connection is less obvious.’”
Our response to artwork depends on where it’s displayed.
Not surprisingly, contexts, social and physical, influence how art is judged.