Home > Events > Cogsci Colloq: Thomas Bever (Cognitive Science, University of Arizona)
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Cogsci Colloq: Thomas Bever (Cognitive Science, University of Arizona)

Time: 
Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Location: 
Bioscience Research Building 1103

Title: Laws of form in Perception: Aesthetic theory, the Golden Ratio and Depth Perception

Abstract: Recent investigations in language and cognition have revived the notions of the role of natural formal laws in cognition and language. In this talk, I discuss the impact of the golden ratio in aesthetic preferences, and its implications for the perception of depth. The golden ratio – as the limit of the Fibonacci series – appears throughout nature, in both biological and physical systems. The two Aristotelian aesthetic theories can explain the preference for the golden ratio frame – it exhibits both optimal complexity in initial stages of vision by virtue of its recursiveness, and creating-and-resolving of representational conflicts. I first review some classic aesthetic theories, conflict resolution and optimal complexity, and briefly review the arguments that such processes may play a critical role in language acquisition. I then show how both principles apply to explain the historically attested preference for the golden section. I then show how these theories predict that the golden ratio frame for paintings and scenes should enhance the illusory perception of depth within them. I then show that various experimental studies confirm those predictions. The result is an unexpected verification both of the general theory of aesthetics and its application to the golden section: equally unexpected from prior theories is the emergent discovery that the golden ratio frame enhances depth perception. Finally, I discuss some new studies in collaboration with several artists, creating new art works designed to explore the interaction of frame shape with different kinds of scenes.

GALLERY:

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