Some Ideas of an Art Psychology

(which help lead to the digital and cyberart of Pygoya)

by Rodney Chang, 1980*

1. Art is perceptual; it is psychological.

2. The power of aesthetic perception is the interaction between the object and the beholder.

3. The experimental aesthetic value of even the most successful art pieces is relative with changes in time and conditions of the society in which it resides.

4. Art, being psychological, includes 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.

5. 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. In other words, ambiguity is a factor of aesthetic perceiving.

6. The results of aesthetic effort an be studied empirically (for example by social criticism or survey ratings) in order to help the artist refine and clarify his future work with more predictable audience reaction to his future efforts.

7. Art changes form as the times change. Today the strongest influence on our way of life and therefore art too is the accelerated advances of technology. Art can choose to cooperate with science in order to continue to be a viable vehicle for expanding our reality to keep up with the changing conditions of the world, and therefore life itself as we experience and perceive it.

8. Art therefore 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.

9. 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.

10. An aesthetic model for relating the complex nature of the process of aesthetic perception can be heuristic in stimulating more new art.

11. 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.

12. There is a continuum of aesthetic perception, the best of which is given special reverence and identity as "art".

13. 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.

14. Because art is psychological, the choice of medium to trigger an aesthetic response is limitless.

15. 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.

16. It takes both cerebral hemispheres to produce good art.

17. 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.

18. Aesthetic appreciation can be fostered and discovered in real life situations instead of just within the limited context of art galleries and museums.

19. Situations, besides just objects, can elicit an intense aesthetic response that characterizes our feelings for the appreciation of the aesthetic in our life experience.

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


* These conclusions by Rodney Chang (a.ka. as Pygoya since 1987) are based on his doctoral study in aesthetics and the psychology of art at Union Institute, Cincinnati, Ohio from 1977 to 1980. Dr. Chang has used these tenants of an "art psychology" as a personal goal oriented philosophy in subsequent decades as a working artist. For example, dental materials are composed into mixed media sculptures and Asian utilitarian objects (such as sandals and chopsticks) melted and reformed in bronze. His dental clinic fascinated America when it was featured on national television because of a discotheque art installation that served as the "waiting room". He himself, became a walking art object as the "Disco Doc", a character intentionally developed after his health care project became notorious. Through past experience as a rock and roll band member and his love for dancing, "Disco Doc" improvised to discotheque crowds' delight, combining decades of styles seamlessly within a dance or two. Later life after disco led Dr. Chang into computers where with his mantra of art psychology he converted computer graphics to digital art. This feat early on in personal computer history, is documented through solo museum exhibitions in the United States and abroad. With the advent of the Internet, Pygoya was among the first to transform digital art to "cyberart" or "art made for contributing to the cyberculture of the online global community". To make that jump took conceptual decisions in regards to character, function, permanency of the works and of course perceived virtual audience needs and reactions.

Bag Art, Rodney Chang, 1983