Predicting beauty: Fractal dimension and visual complexity in art

Alex Forsythe

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Visual complexity has been known to be a significant predictor of preference for artistic works for some time. The first study reported here examines the extent to which perceived visual complexity in art can be successfully predicted using automated measures of complexity. Contrary to previous findings the most successful predictor of visual complexity was Gif compression. The second study examined the extent to which fractal dimension could account for judgments of perceived beauty. The fractal dimension measure accounts for more of the variance in judgments of perceived beauty in visual art than measures of visual complexity alone, particularly for abstract and natural images. Results also suggest that when colour is removed from an artistic image observers are unable to make meaningful judgments as to its beauty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-70
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


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