Last modified: October 23, 2007
We show that artistic composition establishes a configuration of elements in analyzable relationships. The observer's perception of coherence, integrity, balance and unity in an art object arises from relationships between shapes of internal components. The importance of relationships implies aesthetic form is inherently related to the concepts and characteristics of complex systems science. We support these statements through explicit analysis of paintings and sculptures. Particular attention is paid to portrait sculpture, since the individual identity of the sitter (model) is revealed as a unique pattern in the sculpture, even as specific relationships among components can be identified and considered as imposed, selected or revealed by the artist. This understanding then serves as a basis for a proposed theory of aesthetic form.
Among the critical aspects of this theory are relationships between different scales. According to this view, a multiscale perspective of an aesthetic form would reflect the existence of partial self-similarity between levels or scales within the artistic creation. Through our analysis, and its comparison with methods used in artistic creation, we demonstrate how the relationships of components give rise to the perception of aesthetic form.
Through identifying the characteristic nature of internal relationships and their specific nature in individual works of art, our analysis suggests that both universal and individual aspects contribute to the unity of aesthetic form and to the emergent properties of a complex system. This study demonstrates the opportunity for the scientific study of complexity and complex systems to extend into the humanistic studies.