A PHENOMENOLOGICAL CASE STUDY OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESSES OF ART THROUGH AN ALTERNATIVE DENTAL SERVICING ENVIRONMENT

 

RODNEY E. J. CHANG
UNION GRADUATE SCHOOL, CINCINATTI, OHIO
1981

 

     This work is a case study documentation of one researcher's attempt to discover the underlying psychological processes of "art appreciation" through an individualistic holistic approach to scholarship, creative insight, and life in general.

     With the possession and integration of eight other academic and professional degrees, the subject sought psychological understanding of aesthetic perception through the phenomenological methodologies.  The holistic approach to investigation included studying the effect of novelty in the real life situation, and then generalizing the learning to expand applicability to other situational contexts.

     The specific experimental condition was implementation of a discotheque atmosphere in a dental practice office, and declaring the resulting hybrid atmosphere a "work of art."  "Da Waiting Room" received international recognition through NBC's Real People Show television coverage.

     The prediction was that such an alternative environment in a setting usually associated with fear, pain and anxiety would lead to a more humanistic and successful servicing and work situation.  The predictions were consistent with increased patient load and patient acceptance (positive rating responses) and increased service productivity.

     The applied "commercial art" is a creative alternative  prototype for dissovling the notion of immutability of change in other problematic environments facing society.

     Such an internship in the doctoral study on one's own structured creative experiences led the learner to a heuristic and expanded awareness of the process of art, including the following "axioms" of an "art psychology":

     Art is perceptual; it is psychological.  The power of aesthetic perception is the interaction between the object and the beholder.   Art, being psychological, inlcudes both unconscious as well as conscious processes of the beholder.  Developing this awareness and receptivity of the art object is called the "sensitivity" of the beholder.  Art stimulates more intensely than commonplace objects of the world through its inclusion of metaphorical discoveries left free for a multi-interpretive response by the beholder.

      Art represents artifacts of past world realities and is a predictor of future changes of the evolving society, which lags behind the avant-garde in art in changing with the pressures of contemporary life.  The development of a feeling of integration and unity and the attempt to change or expand the reality of the times seems to be common problems and pursuits for artists across specific times and cultures. 

     An aesthetic model for relating the complex nature of the process of aesthetic perception can be heuristic in stimulating more new forms of art.  Social, cultural, political, economic and religious factors must be recognized in the perception of art, other than the readily visible qualities of the work of art.  There is a continuum of aesthetic perception, the best of which is given special reverence and identity as "art."  A systems approach is conceivable in explaining the process of art.  Surely "art" includes biological and social learning that can be conceptualized into a "system" of aesthetics. 

     Because art is psychological, the choice of medium to trigger an aesthetic resonse is limitless.  It takes both cerebral hemispheres to produce great art.  There is a trend today to deemphasize the visible form that art takes with a corresponding elevation of the importance and appreciation of the message or idea (content) of the work of art.  Aesthetic appreciation can be fostered and discovered in real life situations instead of just within the liimited context of art galleries and museums.  Situations, besides just objects, can elicit an intense aesthetic response that characteriszes our feelings of art, and thereby in its own manner, serve as stimuli for the appreciation of the aesthetic in our life experience.  

     Established cultural preferences are passed on, through formal education, to the young.  Aesthetic values and judgments are developed as early as during the elementary years  of schooling. 

     A developed model of aesthetics can lead to a parent world philosophy, for aesthetic perception is only a part of a broader phenomenom - the general psychology of man as it reflects his nature.

     A special graduation ceremony was structured within the dental clinic premises to demonstrate to the doctoral committee the presence and potency of a unique aesthetic stimuli (leading to pleasant experience) as captured by the contextual composition of sight and sounds of "Da Waiting Room."  All professors consented to the fact of having received novel and enriching aesthetic effect and awareness as predicted by the experimenter-artist.

     Implication of the findings is the value in further exploration of alternative creative environments in real life situations through a holistic perspective to positively influence social perception.