Art and Beauty

Does beauty lie in the object itself of how the audience view it?  Is beauty subjective or objective? Is the thing defined by us or does it exists apart from us?

One might argue that beauty is objective as there are some objective qualities that helps to determine how beautiful objects are in the element of design. Elements such as shapes, lines, textures and colour were discovered in artistic works and they established a foundation of what makes something beautiful. During class, we have also done an experiment where each student have 20 minutes to create our own art piece with materials provided. We then have to select one of the objects which we think is the most aesthetically pleasing. All of the objects that we view as the most aesthetically pleasing ones are usually those that follow the element of design. This shows that all of us unconsciously set universal rules to define what makes something beautiful. An example of rules that makes something viewed as beautiful is the golden ratio, There is actually extensive research declaring that there actually is a system for “beauty” hard-wired into our systems. The human face in particular can be shown to universally appear more “beautiful” based on geometric comparisons. Our perceptions of beauty are very definitely related to mathematical proportions found in the human form that are related to the golden ratio. People whose facial dimensions vary significantly from this ratio will be perceived by most to be unattractive or even deformed and grotesque.

However, some might still say that the experience of beauty varies from man to man, beauty cannot be objective. It varies by person based on their background, such as the way they are brought up, religion, culture and their belief. It is very difficult to get people to agree on aesthetic judgments. For example, different people have different taste in music. In an experiment done by Valorie Salimpoor, participates listened to the first 30 seconds of 60 songs they were unfamiliar with and they were offered the chance to purchase it with their own money. Results show that our brains create “musical memory templates” based on past musical experiences we’ve had. Depending on what styles of music your brain has recorded, it will choose to reactivate them or not when listening to a new piece of music. Basically, your brain’s pleasure center predicts how you’ll feel from a song based on similar music you’ve heard. If you’ve never heard classical music before, and your brain has no musical template for it, then odds are you will feel bored or disappointed after turning on a new classical piece.


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