A cybernetic approach to aesthetics

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Franke, H.W.: A cybernetic approach to aesthetics. Leonardo 10(3), 203–206 (1977)




The author considers, in particular, the information contained in pictures and the way in which artists produce them and viewers respond to them from the point of view of cybernetics. He points out (1) that the maximum rate at which the human brain can consciously receive discrete items or bits of information from the senses is about 16 bits/sec and (2) that, since the short-term memory can retain information for only about 10 sec (the period can be extended by mental concentration, but during such concentration the information input is stopped), the brain can consciously process no more than 160 bits at a time. These limitations are then used to examine the structure of pictures and of the process of viewing them. The characteristics of pictures, their information as messages and the way they stimulate emotional reactions in viewers are briefly discussed. The strategy and tactics used by artists to capture and hold the interest of viewers of a picture are outlined. While the author states that it is not easy to measure the amount of information in an artwork and to account for subjective reactions to it, he believes that cybernetic aesthetics will bring an end to the era of sophistry in the discussion of art, because it provides a rational way for understanding the human phenomenon of art and of aesthetic perception.

Extended Abstract


title={A cybernetic approach to aesthetics},
url={http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1573423 http://de.evo-art.org/index.php?title=A_cybernetic_approach_to_aesthetics },
publisher={The MIT Press},
author={Herbert W. Franke},

Used References

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