Artists are known to see the world differently than we mere mortals. And the ways in which we interact with their artwork might make us more prone to seeing the world anew.
Researchers at the University College of London conducted a study on the way the brain responds to visual stimulation — specifically, artwork. What researchers found was unprecedented: Artwork has significant impacts on your consciousness.
1. Pleasure Stimulator
When looking at a painting considered “beautiful,” subjects had increased blood flow in certain parts of the brain. This blood flow is a similar pattern found when looking at somebody you love. In other words, paintings bring us immense feelings of pleasure.
2. Embodied Cognition
Appreciating art is a complex psychological process. First, the brain registers the image(s). Then, neurons fire to determine whether you like/dislike the visual stimuli. Embodied cognition occurs after your brain decides that you like the visual stimuli, and you envision yourself within (or a part of) the stimuli. The emotional effect of embodied cognition is the appreciation for the value and quality of the image.
3. Integrating Senses
It’s not uncommon to experience emotional responses to artwork. Much of these (oftentimes conflicting) feelings stem from the many senses being acknowledged: we see the image, imagine ourselves in the art, feel the texture of the paint, and after embodied cognition is complete – smell the various scents within the photo.
After we witness artwork, the brain must resolve the intense experiences. Typically, this involves a raised awareness of one’s self. Visionary Artists suggests this leads to a greater need to create — whether it be our own artwork, a revised artwork, or something more intangible, like community.
Because of response patterns associated with viewing art, professionals are recommending art therapy to individuals who have experienced trauma or suffer from mental illness.
Art therapy allows us to transport unspoken emotions into the physical world. Indeed, there’s a science behind it. Research links art therapy to reduce stress/anxiety levels, strengthening of positive feelings, and improved cognitive functioning.
6. Raising Consciousness
Some might turn to yoga, but the Visionary Art Movement is recognizing the application of art as means to raise one’s consciousness. The creation of or viewing of visionary art, according to the movement, penetrates deep into the soul to expound upon our inner desires, strengths, ideas, and traumas. The result: a development of the inner sight.
Image via: iai.tv