It’s Only Natural.
There are two types of people in this world: those who enjoy art and those who do not.
It’s always been intriguing to me how differently we all come to see and process art– how one man’s rubbish can turn out to be another man’s treasure. What one individual sees as visually stunning may turn out to be distasteful and unimpressive to another. A film or piece of music that touches me emotionally may, in fact, go on to rattle even my closest friend in an entirely different way.
Moreover, there are some people who pride themselves in having especially sophisticated aesthetic palettes. You know who they are. Those high brow aesthetes who seem to have no difficulty deciphering a Jackson Pollock painting or finding meaning in an image by Georgia O’Keeffe. Or those overly contemplative experts who always so easily figure out exactly what ‘message’ Antonioni or Miyazaki were trying to convey in their films– the confident individuals who unintentionally further the divide between the arts enthusiasts and the not so easily enthused.
Well, it turns we are not all that different after all, that the human brain is actually hard-wired to appreciate art, as reported in a recent June 2014 issue of the scientific journal Brain and Cognition. According to The Wall Street Journal, “the study found that [art] activated areas of the brain involved in vision, pleasure, memory, recognition and emotions, in addition to systems that underlie the conscious process of new information to give it meaning” — which means that having a deep appreciation for the arts is more of a natural, biological process than we originally thought it was. Somewhere deep inside of us, we all have a capability (and a willingness) to find pleasure in art. I, for one, am silently saying ‘I told you so.’
Based on meta-analysis reports compiled by researchers at the University of Toronto from 8 years worth of international studies, the findings basically reveal that “viewing paintings activates various regions of the brain,” triggering high order mental processing, as well as experienced or anticipated pleasure. “Our minds just might be organized to engage with visual art,” explains Katherine Brooks of The Huffington Post. And in a day and age where the fate of the ‘arts’ hangs by a very thin thread, especially in the education sector, this could come as no better news.
The relationship between art and the general public has waned quite drastically over the years and this new study–these fantastic findings– are perhaps just the thing to get us going (artistically) again.
The human brain is made to enjoy art. It really is an interesting concept, something to ponder deeply about.