Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vision of Contemporary Art

Contemporary art can express social commentary and political opinion. While the subject matter of the artworks may derive from local culture, the expressed ideas are not necessarily tied to local myth or religious allegory. Artworks that employ “culturally neutral” imagery have greater potential to evoke emotional response universally. For example, a Western collector, who is not familiar with Iranian politics or society, let alone Islam, may intuitively appreciate the views expressed in Iranian contemporary artworks by virtue of the evoked emotions.
In the field of neuroaesthetics, neuroscientists and psychophysicists have endeavored to identify brain function that underlies perceptual and emotional effects of artworks. Why does a Renaissance painting appear to have depth, or why does a color field painting by Mark Rothko evoke emotion? Neuroscientists have discovered fundamental neural pathways that detect form, color, and motion, and psychophysicists have identified visual cues by which the brain reconstructs depth from two-dimensional information that the eye captures. By virtue of the findings, neuroaesthetics has verified the keen insight of artists in deciphering and exploiting visual perception.
Since the insights identify fundamental aspects of perception, artists can devise universal cues that convey social and political views across cultural sensibilities. Collectors who respond to the aesthetic appeal of the cues indirectly affirm the expressed views by acquiring artworks. As the art market continues to globalize with on-line auctions, galleries, and private sales, acquisitions of contemporary art could indicate worldwide support of the underlying views.
Knowledge of the social and political meaning, and the emotional effect, of the views would aid in assessing global shifts in power of social and political movements. Studies in neuroaesthetics on contemporary art may yield such knowledge.

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