Chp 9 - Chapter 9 Chapter 9: Body Language With our body...

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Chapter 9 The Art of Feeling , Page 27 Chapter 9: Body Language With our body postures and facial expressions we communicate our moods and concerns. Consider Mary Cassatt’s Portrait of a Little Girl (1878) (Figure 9.1).The message sent by her body language is easily unders- tood. We can almost hear her whine, “I’m bored. There’s noth- ing to do.” Comprehension of body language is, evolutionary speaking, vital as survival can de- pend on determining if a predator is hungry or off guard. Under- standing body language can in- creases one’s chances of having meat or being for dinner. In differ- ent mode, comprehending anoth- er’s body language during dinner might increase one’s chances of mating afterwards. The body is the most frequently painted object por- trayed, and leading to endless depiction. Beauty and the Body We delight in the beauty of a well-proportioned body. Both men and women have general preferences in the ideal human body, and biology plays a key role in these preferences. Yet as described in Chapter 7, culture also plays an important role as recent preferences for thinner women and more boyish male features have increased. What makes an attractive body? For bet- ter or worse, our genes and lifestyles have endowed each of us with a certain set of physical cha- racteristics, such as muscular development, body fat distribution, and facial attractiveness. Art- ists have spent considerable time gaining knowledge and skills in depicting these body features in a realistic or idealistic manner. Body Shop In the 1 st Century, B. C., the Roman architect, Vitruvius, considered the design of well- proportioned buildings and bodies. He suggested that architecture is a natural outgrowth of human ecology just as a nest is an outgrowth of a bird’s ex- istence. He developed a framework for “building” the idealized male body. He wrote that when a well- proportioned man lies on ground and extends his arms, the distance between the outstretched hands equals the man’s height^. Thus, a man could be in- scribed inside a square with sides that equal a man’s height and outstretched hands. Vitruvius also stated that the navel defines the midpoint of a circle created
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Chapter 9 The Art of Feeling , Page 28 when the arms are lifted up and the legs extended out. The most famous illustration of the “Vi- truvian Man” was made by Leonardo in his notebook (Figure 9.2). Leonardo made a sketch of a man within Vitruvius’ square and used the golden ratio to define the circle.^ Following Vitruvius, Leonardo also noted how the dimensions of various body parts are in proportion to one another. For example, the width of the torso, length of an arm, and size of the head could be broken down into specific units. Likewise, 4 fingers=1 palm, 4 palms= 1 foot, 8 palms (1½ feet) = 1 cubit, and 4 cubits= a man’s height (6 ft). To gain a better understanding of body shape and design, Leonardo dissected human body parts. In his notebook, he made illustra-
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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 University of California, Berkeley.

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Chp 9 - Chapter 9 Chapter 9: Body Language With our body...

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