Aesthetics in the Context of New Media Art and Knowledge Visualization

Aesthetics in the Context of New Media Art and Knowledge Visualization

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4627-8.ch004
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This chapter discusses aesthetic values in mathematics, science, and computing including aesthetic computing and aesthetic issues related to digital environment. A study of aesthetics has always been related to the arts, philosophy of art, and our judgments about sensory or emotional values of specific art works; they are in the focus of neuroaesthetics. The objectives of aesthetic studies have been changing following the developments in computing technology, shifting the stress on usability and efficiency of projects and visualizations. Challenges and demands in aesthetics and art are then discussed, starting from an essential question (What is an artwork and what is not an artwork?), and including art definitions, art manifestos, opinions on the role of art, beauty, and aesthetic perception of art. Aesthetic education and ways of looking at art complete the chapter.
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The Changing Meaning Of The Aesthetics Notion

Opinions about aesthetic experience meant quite different things in different times. As described by Tatarkiewicz (1999), Pythagoras wrote in the 6th century BC about the aesthetic emotions sensed while appreciating plays and games. Greek philosophers valued cognitive value of aesthetics, while the 18th century writers identified the differences between sensory and intellectual responses to beauty. Other authors describe a variety of aesthetic experiences, such as sensual, non-associative pleasure caused by beauty, cognitive intellectual indulgence, irrational elation, or experiencing illusions: a viewer knows it is an illusion but enjoys it, contemplates, feels empathy, plays a kind of a game by watching a fictional world with fictional rules, switching his troubles off, and feeling emotions (Tatarkiewicz, 1976). In many instances artists impart similar impression related to their creative process.

American mathematician George David Birkhoff (1884-1944) proposed in a book entitled “Aesthetic Measure” a mathematical theory of aesthetics: in an equation M=O/C, Aesthetic Measure (M) is a function of Order (O) divided by Complexity (C). The Gestalt psychology theory of mind postulated that brain has self-organizing tendencies and recognizes the whole of a figure rather than its individual parts (Birkhoff, 2003/1933).

The aesthetics of the new media art is derived from its characteristics: being digital, networked, multisensory, immersive, or interactive. For example, Creative Time and the Public Art Fund in New York and Artangel in London are weaving video projections, websites, and interactive installations into the urban fabric. According to Hansen (2006), new media artworks provide the aesthetic interface between the digital technosphere and our bodies, which is experienced interactively or virtually. The co-evolution of the human body and the digital technosphere goes through the radical aesthetic interface provided by new media artworks themselves; our bodies, when brought into contact with the digital, experience the virtual.

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