Oh, how nice!

The Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics opened in Frankfurt am Main

Fascinating! Moving! Thrilling! Who likes what, why, and under what conditions? These are exactly the kind of questions that scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics aim to answer. The Institute in Frankfurt officially opened on Tuesday, 13 October 2015.

The newly established Institute so far comprises three Departments: The Department of Language and Literature is headed by Winfried Menninghaus, the Music Department by Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann and the Neuroscience Department by David Poeppel. With a current staff of around 90, the Institute is presently located on Grüneburgweg in the Westend Careé. It is expected to move to a building of its own in five to six years’ time.

The scientists will be using a variety of research methods and an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the numerous types and nuances of aesthetic pleasure, as well as the role played by individual, social and cultural differences. One of the challenges facing the Institute is to develop and integrate hypotheses, theories and models drawn from widely differing disciplines, particularly from psychology, the traditional poetics of the individual arts, musicology, artistic and literary science, philosophical aesthetics, biology, sociology and the neurosciences.

The official opening was also the inauguration of the recently completed ArtLab. This multifunctional event location incorporates the technical equipment and facilities of a laboratory. Sounds, facial expressions and gestures, as well as peripheral physiological data of event visitors and the artists themselves can be synchronously recorded and analyzed. In future, the ArtLab will regularly host concerts, readings and other events. To mark the opening, André Werner’s Black Noise II will be premiered by the Ensemble Modern. Michael Schmid will perform Kurt Schwitters’ Sonate in Urlauten.

Frankfurt residents will also have the chance to get to know the newly opened Max Planck Institute: Study participants will be regularly sought to take part in studies relating to language and literature, music and the neurosciences. Those interested can register at the Institute website.