Chi 8 - Chapter 8 Act III The Art of Feeling Chapter 8...

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Chapter 8 The Art of Feeling , Page 3 Act III: The Art of Feeling Chapter 8: Arousing Emotions Ask most people and they will say that art is meant to arouse us, to induce feelings. As de- scribed in Chapter 1, when we experience art in this way we are taking an expressionist ap- proach. Art exists to be felt and you evaluate its success—you like it or you don’t, it’s good or it’s bad. We often seek beauty in art. In heightened moments, we may look at an artwork and say “wow,” as some might at the sight of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (Figure 8.1). This impressive building by the noted architect Frank Gehry does not adhere to the adage that form follows function . In- deed, many of Gehry’s build- ings appear as large sculptural works rather than working en- vironments. In the 2005 docu- mentary film entitled, Sketches of Frank Gehry , Gehry dis- cussed his intentions: “I was looking for a way to express feeling in three-dimensional objects.” Of course, not every- one responds to an artwork in the same way. Some find Ge- hry’s architecture to be over- done and wasteful of space and resources. As we have dis- cussed earlier, one’s evaluation of art depends significantly on personal and cultural knowledge, which directs one’s preferences to artistic styles. To a large extent, beauty is in the brain of the beholder. The Pleasures of Art That “wow” feeling epitomizes an emotional response to art. Art, however, can arouse oth- er feelings of varying degrees and types. Just as a smile, frown, or sullen expression can commu- nicate much without the utterance of a single word, art evokes strong and varied emotions. When an artwork reminds us of a past experience, it arouses feelings associated with that experience. During our emotional experiences with art we become charged, which is driven by a set of brain mechanisms geared to amplify and arouse experiences. Perception, memory, and many bodily functions (e.g., heart rate, respiration) are enhanced when aroused. For Gerhy and many other artists, the primary intention of art is to induce in the beholder such arousing experiences. Even the contemporary artist, Damien Hirst (see Figure 7.x) has stated: “I like the idea of a thing to describe a feeling” (Thompson, 2008). Indeed, the very purpose of art for many is to instill plea- surable emotions. It is this sense of the art experience that will be explored here. Pumping Up
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Chapter 8 The Art of Feeling , Page 4 Consider the following scenario: you are about to give a speech to a large school assembly. As you wait to be introduced, your heart begins to pound, your palms sweat, muscles twitch, and you feel that uneasy fluttering in your stomach. This physiological response is basic and has oc- curred in humans for hundreds of thousands of years when they confronted predators or prey, as they anxiously waited to see if meat would be on the evening’s menu or if they would be on another’s menu. This fight-or-flight response pumps you up for intense physical activity (Sa-
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This note was uploaded on 11/04/2010 for the course PSYCH 39E SEM taught by Professor Shimamura during the Spring '10 term at Berkeley.

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Chi 8 - Chapter 8 Act III The Art of Feeling Chapter 8...

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