Document Type





Previously published in the Colonial Academic Alliance Undergraduate Research Journal.

Submission Date

July 2017


People traditionally rely on visual arts as an effective communication tool and medium of self-expression for when words fail to convey abstract concepts. Thera Mjaaland, anthropologist and professional photographer, writes, “Art is capable of negotiating conceptual gaps caused by a dichotomized epistemology” (393). In essence, Mjaaland asserts that art helps relate different modes of thinking by illustrating the abstract and difficult to grasp—privileging the communicative value of an image over that of text. Within this method of communication is a collection of works acknowledged by public consensus to be of an elevated status or value. The art world is deeply invested in the potential outcome of a discovery of cogent sources of aesthetic experience and the implications a “solution” of aesthetic appeal has for an evolving definition of art. However, researchers who endeavor to identify what precise elements make a work of fine art pleasing ultimately stumble into a pattern of reductionist thinking. In particular, those who analyze fine art in order to establish what mathematical principles may be responsible for a work’s enduring popularity use methods that institute confirmation bias. This type of reductionist analysis, while philosophically relevant, yields misleading conclusions about the sources of an artwork’s fame.


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