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Posturography & Neuroaesthetics: Pictorial depth increases body sway

Dr. Zoi Kapoula

Monday, October 31, 2011, 03:00pm - 04:00pm

Research Director at the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS), Iris group - Physiopathology of Binocular Vision

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Body sway increases in conjunction with the perception of increasing physical depth. I will
present a first study that introduces posturography in the field of aesthetics. Two abstract
paintings by Maria Elena Vieira da Silva ("Egypt", "O'Quarto Cinzento") were used. On a
PC, ten students without art training viewed either the painting or its cubist transformation
(neutralization of depth cues). To measure body sway, posturography was performed using
the Technoconcept platform (at 40 Hz). Viewing the unaltered paintings induced greater
body sway than the cubist transformations of the paintings. The effect was statistically
significant only for "O'Quarto Cinzento" even though both paintings produced subjectively
vivid sense of depth. Linear perspective, high spatial frequency segments were of greater
intensity for this painting, the recessed area at the center of the composition. Thus, body sway
is related to the strength of visual cues, rather than to subjective depth perception. Another
experiment used a Renaissance painting by Piero della Francesca ("L'Annunciazione del
polittico di Sant'Antonio") with strong perspective. Students fixated either the recessed or the
foregrounded area of the painting. Body sway was higher in the former case. Thus, body sway
can even be modulated within the painting according to local depth information.
In the continuity of these studies I will present current work dealing with movement
perception and body sway while viewing painting from Monet in original versus mirror image
rotations (work with P Locher, Monclair University). I will also present results from another
posturography study while viewing sculptures of Richard Serra exhibited at Grand Palais,
Monumenta , an exhibition called Promenade in 2008.
The ensemble of the studies establishes a link between posturography and the field of
cognition and neuroesthetics. The findings provide support for the concept of embodied
cognition, e.g; cognition relies heavily on bodily states

Dr. Zoi Kapoula