Faculty Mentor

Mary C. Boyes


The visual arts offer a reflective source for understanding the processing of aesthetics and beauty that is significant to an awareness of brain function and the human psyche. Evaluating and determining what factors are integral to the experience of aesthetics holds value for understanding deeper psychological implications of perception. I conducted a survey of Western portraiture determined to be famed through repeated Internet searching of "famous art" and best-selling prints for the purpose of examining the works for mathematical attributes proposed to cause the experience of visual pleasure. While mathematical principles and patterns can be found within each example of portraiture, the overarching issue encountered is the validity of the methods that are present in the research that declares the merit of the principles and patterns used. As the data suggesting the value of the attributes sought in the works is flawed, so too is any conclusion based upon it. The ability to quantify the qualitative in an objective manner does not yet exist. Therefore, it is invalid and reductionist to assert the experience of visual pleasure as relates to fame is based on a singular attribute that cannot be empirically established. Attempts to discover adequate methods are not wasted, as the discussion generated by inquiry into the experience of aesthetics offers positive philosophical and critical thinking applications. Furthermore, the promising new frontier for aesthetic research involves utilization of social networking and the Internet as tools.

Cover Page Note

I would like to thank Professor Mary C. Boyes for her support and guidance in the process of this research.