Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Aesthetic complexity : practice and perception in art & design
Author: Birkin, Guy
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2010
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
My research investigates the aesthetics of visual complexity in the practice and perception of visual art and design. The aim is to understand visual complexity in terms of the relationship between the objective properties of images and subjective properties of perception. I take a computational and empirical approach to this subject, incorporating methods from information theory, computer graphics, complexity theory and experimental psychology. For testing, I create cellular automata programs to generate stimulus images, and borrow other types of visual material from students and professional artists, designers and craftspeople. Visual complexity is measured in two ways: Firstly, an objective measure of complexity is based on the compression of digital image files, which provides an information-based scale of order to randomness. Secondly, psychophysical techniques are employed to measure the subjective complexity of the images and other aesthetic judgements. Research in complex systems theory and experimental aesthetics suggests that we can expect an inverted ‘U’ correlation between the two measures of complexity. This project makes an original contribution to knowledge with empirical evidence for the hypothetical correlation of information-based and perceived complexity. With cellular automata images from simple to complex the results show an inverted ‘U’ correlation; the measures diverge as images approach randomness. The file compression measure fares less well with art and design images in these tests, however, perhaps because of the wide variety of visual material. Preference is more variable than judgements of complexity, and art-trained participants rated images higher than untrained participants. The implication is that although the file compression measure does not entirely correspond with human perception, the correlation we have found tells us that we can understand visual complexity as a mixture of order and chaos. A balance of complexity allows for visual exploration and pattern-finding which contributes to aesthetic value. The findings also provide a basis for creative experimentation in art and design practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available