Spatial Aesthetics

with Stephen E. Palmer (UC Berkeley)

Effects of axes of symmetry of frames on visual search tasks 

Webpage designers, photographers, painters and other visual artists are faced with questions of how to position objects within a frame so that their composition is aesthetically pleasing and objects of interest are easier to detect. Aesthetic judgments of spatial layout have been described by positive feelings (e.g.,“Wow! I love it”) and negative feelings (e.g., “Ugh! I hate it”) and it has been reported that certain spatial layouts are preferred more than others within a rectangular frame (Palmer, Gardener & Wickens, 2008). 
More on spatial aesthetics from Palmer-lab (UC Berkeley) 
Experimental results by Palmer and Guidi (2008) using a “goodness of fit” rating task show that the structural skeleton of a rectangular frame are the preferred location with the center being the most potent location (the point of intersection of its vertical and horizontal axis of symmetry).

Figure-1: Goodness of fit rating inside a rectangular frame (Palmer & Guidi, 2008)

The goal of this project is to study the accuracy and speed of visual search tasks for Gabors chains that are placed in different locations within a frame. For example, how do performance in search tasks compate when the Gabor chain is placed along the axes of symmetry in a square/rectangular frames (see Figure-2A ) compared to other postions (see Figure-2B ).

Figure-2A: 
Gabor chain placed along an axis of symmetry of the surrounding frame

Figure-2B: 
Gabor chain placed in the lower left quadrant

Reference 
Palmer, S. E., & Guidi, S. “Exploring Frame Shape using Goodness-of-Fit Measures.” Paper presented at the 8th Annual Meeting of the Vision Science Society, Naples, FL, May 2008.

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