Assorted Entries-
in artist's journal on Art Psychology


Rodney Chang, 1978-80



Visual  experiences, such as viewing art, must involve some sort of combination of the physiological and cognitive processes of the mind. These are called "sensory psychophysics" and "analytic introspection" in perceptual psychology.




Cross-cultural studies in the perception and attention span of art appreciation may shed some light on the differences and similarities of the compared cultures. In fact, if one views art history as an evolution from literal naturalism to abstract clarification of aesthetic principles of universal order and harmony, then one may devise a theoretical growth scale of this evolutionary process in the arts and identify where a culture's art falls on this continuum.




If one looks steadily at a monochromatic work of art (or predominantly one hue or shades of one hue), the color will quickly change as the eye fatigues from no change in stimulation, resulting in an afterimage illusion.




Gestalt therapy attempts to get the client to feel unified and whole as a person. Art attempts to get the observer to feel visual unity.




The more and differently angled lines one places in a drawing, the more chance the drawing will have a 3-dimensional quality to it.




When we view a landscape painting, our attention and eyes fixate on the element of the work that is the brightest, most intense in color or is a predominant "figure/shape". Almost instantaneously we are processing information of the whole piece of art.  Our peripheral vision is also analyzing what the hazy, out-of-focus peripheral stimulation is. In other words, peripheral vision is simultaneously identifying the "background" of the subject that secured initial central vision. Along with this task, peripheral vision is 1) making a rational association between the temporarily focused on subject and the rest of the work that is available to be focused on next and 2) selecting the location of the next spot to which to shift saccadic attention to, after extracting satisfactory information from what one is currently focused on. A conscious prediction is made that the next rest position of the central vision will provide further important information about what is already known about the work from earlier visual data and experience. Thus viewing paintings is a sequential perceptual activity characterized by simultaneous, successive "figure" (attention spots) and "background" analysis, all of which combine eventually to an overall personal conclusion of what the work says and means, and how it makes the observer feel. Thus even in art there is "perceptual purpose".   Without some purpose we stop looking at the work of art.




"Bad" composition (painting) can be viewed as experiencing a succession of glances (one's eye is led about the painting by eye-attention-catching elements of the composition) that do not help in the anticipation of the next, i.e., unrelated saccadic eye movements. This occurs when the bundle of sequential glances don't add up, or is difficult to formulate a consistent visual structure or schema. The work to the viewer remains disintegrated visually as well as cognitively.




Abstract art may be considered "symbolically iconic". In other words the features in abstract art may represent nonobjective mental ideas or feelings one houses in his mind. The art gives form to abstract thought, but is only "representative" of the latter. Thus one might say "abstract art" is not only also "iconic" but "representational".




More flexibility for discovery of art is necessary than in scientific investigation. In art the emotional is just as important as the production of objective facts of the world. Objectivity, or science, is just one contributing factor to the aesthetic "results" of new art. Thus there is a different criteria for "success" in art as compared to science. Art attempts to expand reality just as science does, and thereby widen the breath of life's possibilities. But besides this mutual goal with science, art copes with or fosters the change necessary subjectively (or emotionally) in order to "adapt" to a changing world due to the ongoing accumulation of new objective facts. Of course, art at times can take the initiative for change - such as in the case of the origin of a new dental servicing alternative (Da Waiting Room disco dental clinic by Dr. Rodney Chang) - and then secondarily be followed through by empirical analysis (in this example, follow-up survey of patients attitudes of the disco environment).





I do not view, anymore, art as fantasy or imagination and everything else outside of art, or the aesthetic realm, as "reality". I see art as a source of implementing change in the objective worldly reality, either by striking out on its own or by teaming up with science. For example, what was pure fantasy for civilization a hundred plus years ago is today the airplane. And so must tomorrow's reality also be broadened from what art reveals today. In other words, art can be a preview of tomorrow's objective reality.




Conformity not only hinders the artist but also inhibits the traditional person's readiness to experience and appreciate any new art confronted.




After the artist discovers a concept, he transforms the mental idea into a surrogate with visual form. The astute artist then studies the reaction from the work by both himself and his audience. Thereafter, such inductive observation leads to further development of the original prototype. If he succeeds, he is on his way to developing his own "style". This is how infinite the varieties of art can be - as limitless as there are individuals practicing the art of visual inventivity.




One way of studying people's reactions to art is to role play and attempt to be the critical object. As such I automatically became the "Disco Doc" when, at parties, people discovered that I was the creator of the discotheque-dental office. As a sort of living "art object", I tried to be sensitive and analytical to people's reactions and attitudes towards the aesthetic (and yes, strange) in order to become a better creator of psychological based (or inspired) art.




I hate the bias terms of "childishness" and "immaturity". I don't think it's so much an association with stunted mental growth as it is of keeping a certain positive mode of thinking from becoming extinct in later adult life. Maybe that is why I am attracted to children's art - to understand what it is I still have (and defend against losing), although kids have more of it (undiluted creative interpretation of reality?)




It took me two years to discover the metaphoric quality behind all art work. Now it seems that this is more than that - it is a common factor in being "creative".



The artist realizes that today's world and social system is only temporary, just like all those that came before his time.




Anytime a style of art is around too long, it becomes a problem for those artists that want to implement change or further growth in aesthetic possibilities.



I am not ready to "drop out" of disco, even if it is diminishing in popularity on the collective basis. Instead I choose to select out elements of it, such as strong repetitive base rhythm and flashing colored lights, and integrate it with other aspects of my contemporary and accelerated pace of living.




The goal of art psychology is to integrate man's past and present knowledge, both objective and subjective, in order to provide a more holistic awareness and orientation to life. As for doing art, I always look outside of art for inspiration. With such a broad perspective do I search for a holistic art.