Arnellos, A., & Xenakis, I. (2017). Aesthetic perception: A naturalistic turn. New Ideas in Psychology. doi:10.1016/j.newideapsych.2017.06.002
I’m very pleased to announce a new publication on Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology of Frontiers in Psychology entitled: Aesthetic perception and its minimal content: a naturalistic perspective with my colleague Arnellos Argyris.
Aesthetic perception is one of the most interesting topics for philosophers and scientists who investigate how it influences our interactions with objects and states of affairs. Over the last few years, several studies have attempted to determine “how aesthetics is represented in an object,” and how a specific feature of an object could evoke the respective feelings during perception. Despite the vast number of approaches and models, we believe that these explanations do not resolve the problem concerning the conditions under which aesthetic perception occurs, and what constitutes the content of these perceptions. Adopting a naturalistic perspective, we here view aesthetic perception as a normative process that enables agents to enhance their interactions with physical and socio-cultural environments. Considering perception as an anticipatory and preparatory process of detection and evaluation of indications of potential interactions (what we call ‘interactive affordances’), we argue that the minimal content of aesthetic perception is an emotionally valued indication of interaction potentiality. Aesthetic perception allows an agent to normatively anticipate interaction potentialities, thus increasing sense making and reducing the uncertainty of interaction. This conception of aesthetic perception is compatible with contemporary evidence from neuroscience, experimental aesthetics, and interaction design. The proposed model overcomes several problems of transcendental, art-centered, and objective aesthetics as it offers an alternative to the idea of aesthetic objects that carry inherent values by explaining ‘the aesthetic’ as emergent in perception within a context of uncertain interaction.
Keywords: aesthetic perception, Emotions, anticipation, perceptual content, interactive affordance, agency, normativity
Even though aesthetics and aﬀordances are two important factors based on which designers provide eﬀective ways of interaction through their artifacts, there is no study or theoretical model that relates these two aspects of design. We suggest a theoretical explanation that relates the underlying functionality of aesthetics, in particular, of interaction aesthetics and of aﬀordances in the design process. Our claim is that interaction aesthetics are one among other factors that allow users to enhance the detection of action possibilities and consequently, the detection of aﬀordances. Our aim is ﬁrst to discuss the role of interaction aesthetics in the design process, and second to suggest an explanation for their role in the detection of aﬀordances when users interact with artifacts.