Aesthetic Appraisal of Art - from Eye Movements to Computers

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Christian Wallraven, Douglas W. Cunningham, Jaume Rigau, Miquel Feixas, Mateu Sbert: Aesthetic Appraisal of Art - from Eye Movements to Computers. In: Oliver Deussen, Peter Hall (Eds.): Eurographics Workshop on Computational Aesthetics, 2009. 137-144



By looking at a work of art, an observer enters into a dialogue. In this work, we attempt to analyze this dialogue with both behavioral and computational tools. In two experiments, observers were asked to look at a large number of paintings from different art periods and to rate their visual complexity, or their aesthetic appeal. During these two tasks, their eye movements were recorded. The complexity and aesthetic ratings show clear preferences for certain artistic styles and were based on both low-level and high-level criteria. Eye movements reveal the time course of the aesthetic dialogue as observers try to interpret and understand the painting. Computational analyses of both the ratings (using measures derived from information theory) and the eye tracking data (using two models of saliency) showed that our computational tools are already able to explain some properties of this dialogue.

Extended Abstract


author = {Wallraven, C. and Cunningham, D. and Rigau, J. and Feixas, M. and Sbert, M.},
title = {Aesthetic Appraisal of Art - from Eye Movements to Computers},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the Fifth Eurographics Conference on Computational Aesthetics in Graphics, Visualization and Imaging},
series = {Computational Aesthetics'09},
year = {2009},
isbn = {978-3-905674-17-0},
location = {Victoria, British Columbia, Canada},
pages = {137--144},
numpages = {8},
url = {, },
doi = {10.2312/COMPAESTH/COMPAESTH09/137-144},
acmid = {2381311},
publisher = {Eurographics Association},
address = {Aire-la-Ville, Switzerland, Switzerland},

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