Monday, February 20, 2012

Does Fear Help Us Appreciate Abstract Art?

“Indeed terror is in all cases whatsoever, either more openly or latently, the ruling principle of the sublime,” Edmund Burke wrote in 1757 in his A Philosophical Inquiry Into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. Burke’s words have stood unproven but well-considered for over 250 years. A team of research psychologists think they may have finally proved Burke correct. After showing subjects short, scary videos, the researchers found that the terrorized viewers had a greater appreciation for abstract art shown to them immediately afterwards. Is “terror,” as Burke put it, really “the ruling principle of the sublime,” namely the wow factor or speechlessness that we experience before certain works of art? When someone says that they just don’t get abstract art, should we sneak up behind them and say “boo”? Or is it the other way around, and abstract art helps us appreciate our fear? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Does Fear Help Us Appreciate Abstract Art?"

[Image: El Lissitsky. Proun Inv. 92, 1924-1925.]

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