Perceptual and Computational Categories in Art

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Christian Wallraven, Douglas W. Cunningham, Roland W. Fleming: Perceptual and Computational Categories in Art. In: Douglas W. Cunningham, Victoria Interrante, Paul Brown, Jon McCormack (Eds.): Eurographics Workshop on Computational Aesthetics, 2008. 131-138



The categorization of art (paintings, literature) into distinct styles such as expressionism, or surrealism has had a profound influence on how art is presented, marketed, analyzed, and historicized. Here, we present results from several perceptual experiments with the goal of determining whether such categories also have a perceptual foundation. Following experimental methods from perceptual psychology on category formation, naive, non-expert participants were asked to sort printouts of artworks from different art periods into categories. Converting these data into similarity data and running a multi-dimensional scaling (MDS) analysis, we found distinct perceptual categories which did in some cases correspond to canonical art periods. Initial results from a comparison with several computational algorithms for image analysis and scene categorization are also reported.

Extended Abstract


author = {Wallraven, C. and Cunningham, D. W. and Fleming, R.},
title = {Perceptual and Computational Categories in Art},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the Fourth Eurographics Conference on Computational Aesthetics in Graphics, Visualization and Imaging},
series = {Computational Aesthetics'08},
year = {2008},
isbn = {978-3-905674-08-8},
location = {Lisbon, Portugal},
pages = {131--138},
numpages = {8},
url = {, },
doi = {10.2312/COMPAESTH/COMPAESTH08/131-138},
acmid = {2381355},
publisher = {Eurographics Association},
address = {Aire-la-Ville, Switzerland, Switzerland},

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