Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Beauty And Brains

I’m not sure that I understand the real significance of the findings described in the article. It seems to me that knowing which part of the brain is affected by aesthetic beauty will cause little change in the art world. First, I would imagine that this is subjective. I can’t believe that we can do a couple of brain scans while people are looking at a work of art, and suddenly decide that it is universally unpleasing to the aesthetic receptors. It could tell you whether an individual person believes that an individual work is beautiful or not, but I think on the whole we would gather little more.
Second, the article suggests that the value of works of art can change overnight, but I think the value of a work of art is not simply in its aesthetic beauty. While I do consider that highly important in a work of art it is not the only consideration, and I do not believe that art is valued in this way. I am a big fan of Marcel Duchamp, I know the article mocked his fountain, but I do not place beauty at the top of my list for the reason that I appreciate his work. Some of his works have a beauty to their construction but some are merely a snow shovel, or a urinal. According to the fears of art critics as described in the article, if I were to be tested I would discover that I do not find this work that aesthetically pleasing and therefore hate it.
I believe that there are many factors that go into deciding whether or not a work of art is valuable. When I assign value to a work in my mind I know that the decision is being based on beauty, skill, originality, concept, etc. This process determines one of many factors that go into this decision.

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