Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics
Lecture by Dirk Bernhardt-Walther: Cross-modal,
affective and aesthetic aspects of scene perception
People perceive their environment through all of their senses. We demonstrate how the brain forms abstract representations of real-world environments that transcend sensory modalities across vision, audition, and thermal perception. Many scenes evoke emotional responses, which are related to scene content but also to low-level image features. We identify particular low-level image features that are connected to positive or negative affective valence. We then synthesize content-free pseudo-scenes based on those feature statistics and show that they reliably trigger the expected emotional reactions in participants. Finally, we relate visual shape and color features directly to basic emotions in a large-scale survey, comparing artists to non-artists. At the end of my presentation I will discuss a proposal to link visual complexity and symmetry to aesthetic pleasure.