Monday, January 23, 2012

What makes a masterpiece?

I watched this interesting three part series on 4od called...What makes a master piece?. Well worth the watch. Being a visual artist I was very interested in the last episode were Matthew Cain explores the relationship between neuro-aesthetics and visual art.
At London's Tate Britain a unique experiment is under way. Wearing specially designed goggles to track how eyes move around a painting and receptors to monitor breathing, sweating and heartbeat, Cain and members of the public are monitored to find out whether paintings can literally set our pulses racing or take our breath away.
The experiments throw up some surprising results about what we respond most strongly to, even casting Brit Art enfant terrible Damien Hirst in a different light.
UCL Professor Semir Zeki - one of neuro-aesthetics' leading lights - believes he's discovered a 'formula for beauty'. Zeki scans Cain's brain while showing him artwork from Lucien Freud to Leonardo da Vinci to see what stimulates a part of the brain Zeki terms the 'beauty spot'. Can Zeki tell which art Cain really likes or even if he's telling the truth?
If there's a formula to good art, can the masterpieces of the future be created using a scientific check list? To find out, Matt commissions a painting combining everything he's learned about visual art.