Quality of Aesthetic Experience and Implicit Modulating Factors
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Since the Dadaist refusal of the conventional standards in art, followed by several movements rejecting art as a commodity, and recently, the popularity of Internet and digital art, artworks have become difficult to recognize as artworks in themselves. Modern works of art are no longer readily only seen today, more often fully experienced. The processing of an aesthetic experience needs a new understanding in terms of the changing context of art and the experiential perspective of art recipients. In the multimedia arena, the valid assumption is that, evaluations of aesthetic experiences are mostly based on the accessible information on the surface of the medium. Several research groups in Psychology and Philosophy question the singularity of exterior-level assumptions demonstrating that there are implicit variables that are contributing to an individual`s experiences. The aesthetic evaluation of contemporary art or digital media presentation involves a complex interplay of various factors in any aesthetic encounters [7, 31, 41]. Since the latter of 1800s empirical aesthetics has had a tradition of examining the influence of visual or surface features on aesthetic judgements (since ). However, the influence of implicit variables on the perception of quality remains largely unexplored especially in the fields of computer graphics and human computer interaction. The thesis is addressing this shortcoming. It investigated the effect of various implicit features and modulating factors, for instance the use of colour in eliciting emotion, the presence of familiar characters or alter ego, prior experiences and mental concepts (caused by food craving) which contribute to the final aesthetic quality evaluations and formation of aesthetic experiences in digital media. The current work is multifaceted, and examined several factors known to influence aesthetic quality evaluation. A wide range of stimuli were developed most of which were artistic demonstrations or installations. The methodology in the current work employed affective measures, Quality of Experience and newly developed approaches. From the two broad levels of aesthetic processing: automatic, implicit processing and deliberate, explicit , this thesis focused on the implicit processing stage. First, it examined familiarity as a modulating factor in the perceived quality evaluation of an augmented 3D content (Paper A). Results showed that when two stereoscopic contents (one is a novel character and another is a familiar character) with the same characteristics of distortions, actor behaviour and environment, were displayed at the same time, bias reactions occur. The presence of familiar person in a digital material led to positive evaluation of perceived quality. This study results not only led to bias in quality perception but also elicited an increased feeling of enjoyment when a familiar object is presented in the material. Furthermore, it was also observed that although viewers enjoy viewing familiar objects, the graphical representation of the viewer`s alter ego or character in a digital environment was also regarded as another concern. This led to the development of an artistic demonstration called Flick Flock (Exhibition A) and another study that examined the perceiver`s bias reactions to non-realistic representations of characters as compared to its realistic counterpart in an immersive environment (Paper B). Second, the thesis investigated the effects of stylistic use of colour on the viewer`s affective state and aesthetic processing in immersive environments (Paper C). It was found that the level of colour saturation in graphics rendering has an impact on the evaluation of the affective quality in an immersive digital environment. An interactive art installation called Chroma Space was developed along with this study to demonstrate the potential thematic usage of colours in a virtual space (Exhibition B). Various scenarios in the environment were also used as test stimuli in the study. Third, it examined how prior implicit experiences in the form of primes serve as a modulating factor in the perceived quality evaluation of experimental art films (Paper D). It was observed that prior implicit experiences (i.e. short exposure to contemporary artworks) affect aesthetic judgment and evaluation of Quality of Experience (QoE) to a subsequently exposed digital material (i.e. experimental art films). Fourth, the dissertation investigated another complex implicit modulating variable that goes with the human condition, the influence of food craving on human mental states. Results suggested that the presence of pleasure stimulus alters our sensitivity and perception of quality in digital media. Food-craving condition led to bias on food-related stimulus (Papers E and F). In this study, an installation called Candy is developed not only as an artistic platform but also served to provide a rough prediction on the potential occurrence and time course of food craving when interacting with digital media (Exhibition C). It also served as a guideline in approximating the period of time during which food craving is most actively experienced. Each set of studies presented in this thesis is prefaced by an introduction to the main theoretical and empirical issues addressed, and the reformatted copies from the original manuscripts are provided. In addition, the implications of the results on the field of empirical aesthetics, computer graphics and human computer interaction are discussed. Finally, a discussion of the current state and future direction of this thesis is provided.