The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Why do we find astronomical images aesthetically pleasing and even beautiful?  (Read 3800 times)

Offline Democritus

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 44
    • View Profile
How is it that many or most of folks find astronomical objects and images to be aesthetically pleasing, or even beautiful, or even great works of art? Think of Saturn, of spiral galaxies, of the Pleiades, the Orion and other nebulae, the deep field Hubble images, vast dust and gas clouds and countless other diverse examples. What is it about our human evolutionary condition or nature that makes this fundamental veneration or appreciation so? 


 

Offline RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8127
  • Thanked: 53 times
    • View Profile
IMO also true of the microscopic : radiolarian skeletons wouldn't look out of place in an art gallery,
 (if they were a few thousand times bigger).
« Last Edit: 22/02/2011 20:15:46 by RD »
 

Offline Pikaia

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 81
    • View Profile
It is all because of the Cosmetic Background Radiation.  ;D
 

Offline imatfaal

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2787
  • rouge moderator
    • View Profile
It is all because of the Cosmetic Background Radiation.  ;D

Boom ! Boom !

Nice one. Only english fo'cors of a certain age (ie basil brush viewers) will understand this as a compliment to a great joke
 

Offline Soul Surfer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 3345
  • keep banging the rocks together
    • View Profile
    • ian kimber's web workspace
In order to survive we have to make sense of the information that our senses provide us and use this information to build a model of our surroundings and then learn to identify the things that are important to us like finding food, mates etc,  These senses are built round basic pattern recognition processes and so are very sensitive at identifying all sorts of order from a seemingly disordered situation. the recognition of order gives a degree of satisfaction an pleasure.  On this thesis truly random information is unsettling and disconcerting because there is no pattern in it.  You can easily test this by listening to a source of white noise for some time you will eventually start to detect brief patterns or voices buried in it but they will not last  similar things can happen if you watch a random noise pattern on a TV screen.  So random noise is likely to form the basis of the least satisfying artistic experience.
 

Offline tbarron

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 22
    • View Profile
I don't know. Clouds are pretty random, but people often enjoy looking at them and trying to "see" familiar shapes in them. Often, what I find most beautiful about astronomical images is the coloring. However, not too long ago, I learned that much of the coloring in some of my favorite images is added by post-processing to indicate areas of invisible radiation on both ends of the spectrum. So I would probably not find the image generated by the available visible light as attractive as the post-processed image with the added colors.

And then, there are orderly images that I find threatening or ugly, like dust mites [nofollow], or other magnified images of almost any creepy crawly. They're certainly not random but I, for one, don't find them beautiful either.
 

Offline Soul Surfer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 3345
  • keep banging the rocks together
    • View Profile
    • ian kimber's web workspace
Clouds are far from being random they all have specific structures caused by the processes that generate them.  In my suggestion I was really only dealing with what one could call abstract images.  I did not add the fact that images of things with particular associations would of course elicit an emotional response.  particularly those of things that one feared for any reason.
 

Offline tbarron

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 22
    • View Profile
Clouds are far from being random they all have specific structures caused by the processes that generate them.  In my suggestion I was really only dealing with what one could call abstract images.  I did not add the fact that images of things with particular associations would of course elicit an emotional response.  particularly those of things that one feared for any reason.

Would astronomical structures like galaxies and nebulae be less structured than terrestrial clouds?

I know what you're saying about the white noise. My brain projects voices and phones ringing into the noise of my tub draining all the time.
 

Offline RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8127
  • Thanked: 53 times
    • View Profile
My brain projects voices and phones ringing into the noise of my tub draining all the time.

That's "audio paredolia"... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_voice_phenomenon#Psychology_and_Perception
« Last Edit: 24/02/2011 05:01:31 by RD »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum


 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums