24–26 August 2018
Trieste, Italy

Organized by Rossana Actis-Grosso and Daniele Zavagno
University of Milano-Bicocca

RegistrationFULL PROGRAM

Recent News from VSAC 2018 Organizers

VSAC 2018 Full Program

Please find below the full VSAC 2018 conference program. You can download, visualize, save, and print the full program in PDF from this link.

Friday August 24 2018

Conference registration
Conference welcome address
Symposium – Organizer: Ian Verstegen

Art and expression (In memory of Alberto Argenton)
Benjamin Van Buren – Ownership of Expressive Properties
Ling Zhu – Visual Tension and the Expressiveness of Art
Riccardo Luccio – Psychology of Art vs Psychology of Expression?
Lunch Time
Art Workshops – Chair: Rossana Actis-Grosso and Daniele Zavagno

Patrick Hughes – Developing reverspective in form and imagery + Thomas Papathomas – Patrick Hughes’s reverspectives as research tools in visual perception
Youjia Lu + Marco Bertamini – Indeterminate Self
Silvio Wolf + Inna Rozentsvit – Thresholds: The artist as the medium
Wendy Morris – This, of course, is a work of the imagination + Johan Wagemans, Vincent Janssens, Nelke Jorissen, and Nathalie Vissers – A museum study with some imagination too, perhaps
Art Workshop Poster Time
Keynote Lecture

Michael Kubovy – The place of contemplation in a world of arts
Welcome Cocktail

Saturday August 25 2018

Talk Session 1: Aesthetic Experience – Chair: Claus-Christian Carbon

Sadia Sadia – The sacred ground: Enhancing and constructing the transcendent state in the installation environment
Aenne Brielmann and Dennis Pelli – Beauty and pleasure: Beauty correlates with valence and anhedonia, but not arousal and depression
Claudia Menzel, Kana Schwabe, Catarina Amado, Gregor U. Hayn-Leichsenring, Caitlin Mullin, Johan Wagemans, Gyula Kovács, and Christoph Redies – Artistic composition in abstract images can be detected fast and automatically
Claus-Christian Carbon – Aesthetic appreciation: The power of Zeitgeist
Talk Session 2: Dynamics and Order – Chair Stefano Mastandrea

Hanna Brinkmann, Eugene McSorley, Raphael Rosenberg, and Louis Williams – Does “action viewing” really exist? The relationship between dynamic paintings and gaze behavior
Claudia Muth and Claus-Christian Carbon – Shifting in and out of semantic (in)stability. A dynamic view on interest in visual ambiguity, indeterminacy, and disorder
Andreas Gartus, Helene Plasser, and Helmut Leder – Need for cognitive closure affects preferences for symmetry
Stefano Mastandrea and John M. Kennedy – Flying gallop or running pony? The perception of movement in horse’s gaits from Gericault and Wright paintings
Coffee break and Poster Time
Symposium – Organizer: Rossana Actis-Grosso

Representation of events and dynamic content in the visual arts (In memory of Manfredo Massironi)
Hermann Kalkofen and Micha Strack – Today’s Neglect of Person Repetition in Narrative Pictures
Ian Verstegen, Tamara Prest, Laura Messina Argenton, and Alberto Argenton (†) – Pictorial continuous narratives: Perceptual-representational strategies
Rossana Actis-Grosso: Dynamic contents in the visual arts: the tricky passage between simultaneity and succession
Lunch Time
Talk Session 3: Mixed Sessions – Chair: Jasmina Stevanov

Judith Haziot Schreiber – Visible facture in painting, from Art History to Cognitive Sciences
Irina Shoshina, Nikolai Matveev, Daniel Fridman, Evgenia Sitkina, and Elena Isajeva – Contemporary audio-visual art and mechanism of global and local information analysis
Johannes M. Zanker and Jasmina Stevanov – A direct and fast comparison method to measure perceived complexity
Laurens Meeus – Image processing in art investigation: recent developments and a case study on the Ghent altarpiece
Coffee Break and Poster Time
Business Meeting
Keynote Lecture

Ian Koenderink: Macchie, passages and edges lost and found

Sunday August 26 2018

Talk Session 4: On Artists and more – Chair: Johan Wagemans

Elodie Fourquet: Perspective on the Canvas
Russell D. Hamer: Surreal Artist as Visual Neuroscientist: Perceptuo-Cognitive Analysis of Selected Works of René François Ghislain Magritte
Christopher Tyler: Did Leonardo Da Vinci have strabismus?
Gül A. Russell: Magritte transforms Alberti’s “window”: “The eye is a false mirror”
Symposium – Organizer: Daniele Zavagno

Teaching Psychology of Art: ideas and issues
Carmelo Calì: Questions for the psychology of the artful mind
George Mather: Sensation and perception in visual art
Claus-Christian Carbon: Teaching and Researching: Two sides of a coin
Coffee Break
Talk Session 5: Perception and techniques – Chair: Rossana Actis-Grosso

Christoph Witzel: What are “complementary colours”?
Mitchell van Zuijlen: Human skin depiction over the ages
Cristina Spoiala: Translucency in sea paintings
Stefanie De Winter, Nathalie Vissers, Christophe Bossens, Silke Renders, and Johan Wagemans: Split-Second Art: Investigating Frank Stella’s Moroccan Paintings (1964) with a Short Exposure Experiment
Qasim Zaidi, Erin Koch, Famya Baig: Picture perception reveals mental geometry of 3D scene inferences
Closing Remarks

Saturday Posters

All posters should be put up on Saturday morning before 10:00
Odd numbered posters: Authors MUST attend their poster during the morning poster session
Even numbered posters: Authors MUST attend their poster during the afternoon poster session

Architecture, street art, and installations
1 Miriam Ruess, Sonja Ehret, Joana Post, and Roland Thomaschke – The influence of room architecture on the perception of time
2 Richard Jedon, Federica Casetti, Elnaz Ghazi, Natalia Olszewska, Leonardo Poli, Antonio Sorrentino, and Nour Tawil – Neurophenomenological approach to architectural design
3 Ute Leonards and Emily Barnett – Graffiti Street Art – the impact of environmental context on perceived aesthetics and neighbourhood liveability
4 Bilge Sayim and Ivana Franke – Towards a Phenomenology of the Unknown: ‘Impossible’ Objects in a Contemporary Art Installation
5 Haruyuki Kojima, Suguru Hashimoto and Manila Vannucci – Aesthetic judgment of Western and East-Asian buildings: behavioral and electrophysiological evidence
6 Inna Rozentsvit and Silvio Wolf: Art-Eco-Wellness – Art and nature through the lens of visual science and neuropsychoanalysis
7 Emika Okumura, Shinichi Koyama and Toshimasa Yamanaka – Frequency analysis of words in the text of architecture magazines related to the sensibility of visual dynamics
Aesthetics, design, and technology
8 Sarah Heiligensetzer, Thorsten Schmittlutz, and Claus-Christian Carbon- Creativity and Complexity: Creative solutions are more complex but need also more time
9 Alessandro Soranzo and Jie Gao – Individual differences in aesthetic preferences for Interactive Objects: a Q-methodology study
10 Sandra Utz, Amelie Reichenbecker, and Claus-Christian Carbon – Evaluation of dynamic preferences using the Repeated Evaluation Technique (RET) – The impact of innovation, complexity, attractiveness, and personality on the perception of fashion
11 Uwe Christian Fischer, Jelisaweta Vlasova, Claus-Christian Carbon, and Stefan A. Ortlieb – Coping with kitsch? People with different coping-styles respond differently to decorative everyday objects
12 Katerina Malakhova – Creating images based on individual visual preferences
13 Marius Hans Raab, Feliciana Wolff and Claus-Christian Carbon – Character design in video game art: Stereotypical facial aesthetics elicits emotional distress in morally demanding situations
14 Katja Thömmes – Predicting Instagram Likes with image features concerning content and composition
Crossmodal … and maybe more
15 Pinaki Gayen, Junmoni Borgohain, and Priyadarshi Patnaik – The influence of music on art making: An exploration of inter-medial connection between music interpretation and visual attribute depiction in figurative paintings
16 Liliana Albertazzi, Luisa Canal, Paolo Chistè, Iacopo Hachen, and Rocco Micciolo – Synesthesia and ideasthesia at the crossroads: Kandinsky and Schönberg as a case study
17 Slobodan Marković and Katarina Rančić – The affective and perceptual aspects of music- paintings congruence
Aesthetic studies
18 Jelena Blanuša and Slobodan Marković – Aesthetic appraisal of curviness and angularity in abstract paintings
19 Catherine Viengkham and Branka Spehar – Fractal-scaling properties predict individual preferences across synthetic images and art
20 Eline Van Geert and Johan Wagemans – Aesthetics and good Gestalt: a close but complex relationship?
21 Dragan Jankovic: Aesthetic development – Perception-to-cognition shift in the criteria of aesthetic evaluation of visual artworks
22 Jelisaweta Vlasova, Uwe C. Fischer, Claus-Christian Carbon, and Stefan Ortlieb – Home sweet home: Is kitsch more popular with people who value security over arousal?
23 Oliver Toskovic – Are angels spherical? Aesthetic experience in a field of perceptual forces
24 Giacomo Bignardi, Dirk Ja Smit and Tinca Jc Polderman – Genetic influences on visual aesthetic preferences: Towards a new etiological perspective in visual empirical aesthetics
25 Felix Binder, Aenne Brielmann, and Joerg Fingerhut – The Golden Ratio is not always preferred in art
26 George Mather – The fractal dimension of modern art
27 Vicente Estrada, Anjan Chatterjee, Stacey Humphries, and Markus Müller – Both artworks and computer-generated images with equivalent physical properties evoke similar aesthetic subjective judgements
28 Marina Iosifyan – Understanding Intentions and Aesthetic Appreciation of Cinema
Perception, and art
29 Anya Hurlbert, Mitchell Van Zuijlen, Cristina Spoiala, and Maarten Wijntjes – Painting the time of day: colour determines perceived circadian phase in visual art
30 Andrea van Doorn, Jan Koenderink, and Johan Wagemans – Lost edges
31 Jan Koenderink, Andrea van Doorn and Karl Gegenfurtner – Colour symmetries
32 Rob van Lier and Vebjørn Ekroll: Amodal presence and absence in visual art – Magritte, Baldessari, Catalano, Picasso
33 Arefe Sarami, Johan Wagemans and Reza Afhami – The effect of perceptual organization on perception of an abstract painting by Kazimir Malevich
34 Marco Bertamini and Letizia Palumbo – Can a preference for smooth curvature be explained by visual system tuning to smoothness in shape processing?
35 Shinichi Koyama, Shiho Sasano, Manami Furuno, Emika Okumura, and Toshimasa Yamanaka – Disgust to the cluster of dots (trypophobia) is mediated by arm-likeness of the background object
Portraits, selfies, self, and emotions
36 Francesca Siri, Martina Ardizzi, Francesca Ferroni, Maria Alessandra Umiltà, and Vittorio Gallese – The emotional sides of Portraits and Self-Portraits
37 Olga Daneyko, Elena Sessi, Rossana Actis-Grosso, and Daniele Zavagno: When a star looks upon you – The perception of glance direction in classic Hollywood portraits
38 Andjela Keljanovic and Tijana Todic-Jaksic – Relation of physical self-concept with the experience of attractiveness and femininity of own body
39 Leon Lou – Head-to-mirror proportion error decreases in self-portraits that include background objects
40 Tobias Matthias Schneider and Claus-Christian Carbon: One Thousand and One Selfies – About the rules, specificities and curiosity of selfies and the impact on attractiveness, sympathy and perceived competence
41 Maria Elisa Della Torre, Daniele Zavagno, and Rossana Actis-Grosso – Do Asperger individuals perceive E-Motions in artworks?
42 Neil Harrison – Grid lines improve the accuracy of face depiction for novice drawers
43 Camilla Martina Succi, Olga Daneyko, and Daniele Zavagno – The Mona Lisa effect? It works with distance
Art investigations from different persepctives
44 Kaori Segawa, Ayako Osaki and Katsuaki Sakata – Spectral analysis of historical dyed textile
45 Pranjali Kulkarni and Leslee Lazar – Capturing the translation of artist’s philosophy in neo tantric abstract visual art
46 Wendy Sloan – Art as a reflection of reality: the same intuitive truths repeated across semiotic representations

Important dates

Dates of the Conference
24-26 August 2018

Abstract Submission Opening
22 January 2018

NEW Deadline for Abstract Submission
15 May 2018

Registration Opening
20 March 2018

NEW Registration Early Bird Ending
12 June 2018

Cancellation & Refunds Ending
20 June 2018

VSAC 2018 Keynote Lectures

The place of contemplation in a world of arts

by Michael Kubovy

Three topics have preoccupied psycho- and neuro-aestheticians: perception, preference, and pleasure. In this talk, I intend to examine two topics that scholars have not treated with sufficient care: the scope of their subject matter, and the nature of pleasure. In particular, I will inveigh against the following widely accepted view (as articulated by Skov & Nadal, 2018): “assuming that art is special is to cling to the idea that some aspect of our species’ mental constitution makes us unique, special, and meaningful. This assumption continues to relegate scientific aesthetics to the periphery of science and hampers a naturalized view of the human mind.” I will argue that although there are reasons to believe that aesthetic experiences are sui generis complex and temporally extended contemplative activities, one need not assume that they are based upon art-specific psychological and neural processes inconsistent with the naturalization of mind. In addition, I will criticize the view (also widely accepted) that aesthetic valuation is the function of a cortical reward network that doesn’t care whether one is enjoying a fine wine or admiring Leonardo’s Last Supper. To this end, I will revisit my chapter “On the Pleasures of the Mind” in Kahneman et al. (1999).

Macchie, passages and edges lost and found

by Jan Koenderink

In the visual arts, one often composes a spatially organised array of elements. These elements are often patches (“macchie”) and edges. These are mutually complementary and often imply each other. “Edges” may either divide or unite macchie, whereas macchie may imply edges. Edges may be common boundaries as in cloisonnism, one one-sided as in outline. Composition often requires that edges be “lost”, either to avoid a silhouette effect, or to merge macchie that are semantically distinct, like figure and ground. This leads to planned “passages” or various modulations of edge quality, the “lost & found” quality being most common. In this talk, I will relate such artistic devices to the concept of “edge” in biological and human vision.

The background image of the title section is an elaboration of the work “Birds” by Manfredo Massironi.

Closed curvilinear doodles. A very small triangle (equilateral or isosceles) and a small circle of almost the same size. The distance between them is approximately twice the length of the triangle’s side. “Incorporating the circle-triangle pattern so that the triangle is external and the circle is internal in relation to the outer border of a doodle (and making sure that the basis of the triangle coincides with a portion of the outer border that has no intersection of lines), you will see birds appear”.

Massironi M. (2002). The Psychology of graphic images (pp.216-7). London, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associated.

Call for Abstracts

Abstract submission for VSAC 2018 is now open. The extended deadline is May 15, 2018. All abstracts will be peer reviewed by members of the VSAC 2018 Scientific Committee.

In addition to Posters and Talks, this year we are experimenting an additional type of conference intervention: “Art Workshop”, a cultural crosstalk between Art and Vision Science.

Follow this link for submitting your contribution and reading information about guidelines, important dates, topics and formats. Please note that an EasyChair account is requested. All first authors of abstracts should be registered to the conference by May 15, 2018.

All questions about submissions should be emailed to

Call for Abstracts


VSAC’s History
The Visual Science of Art Conference (VSAC) was established in 2012 by Baingio Pinna in Alghero (Italy), with the aim of connecting the communities of visual scientists and artists to promote cross-fertilization between the two domains. The VSAC is an ideal venue to debate and collaborate on all topics associated with the perception and evaluation of artworks.

From its beginnings the VSAC has been organized as a satellite conference of the ECVP (European Conference on Visual Perception), the leading European conference on visual science.

After Alghero / Italy 2012) VSAC has been hosted in Belgrade / Serbia (2014, by Slobodan Markovic), in Liverpool / UK (2015, by Marco Bertamini), in Barcelona / Spain (2016, by Alejandro Parraga) and in Berlin / Germany (2017, by Claus Carbon and Joerg Fingerhut).

Picture by Nathalie Vissers


VSAC 2018
This year, the sixth VSAC will be hosted in the beautiful Mitteleuropean port city of Trieste, next to the northeastern border of Italy. Organized again as a satellite conference of the ECVP (European Conference on Visual Perception), the VSAC invites all people that connect visual perception and the arts (e.g., empirical, experimental, philosophical, phenomenological, computational approaches). Come to the seashore of Trieste, be part of the VSAC and enjoy two great days together with scientists, artists and with people who are fascinated by aesthetic phenomena.

Yours faithfully,
Rossana Actis-Grosso & Daniele Zavagno

If you are not Italian, please ignore what is written below.

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Grazie della gentile collaborazione!

VSAC 2018 Scientific Committee

Rossana Actis-Grosso
Liliana Albertazzi
Marco Bertamini
Nicola Bruno
Carmelo Calì
Claus-Christian Carbon
Olga Daneyko
Walter Gerbino
Pietro Guardini
Dragan Jankovic
Ute Leonards
Slobodan Marković
Stefano Mastandrea
George Mather
C. Alejandro Parraga
Baingio Pinna
Rob van Lier
Kenzo Sakurai
Bilge Sayim
Alessandro Soranzo
Branka Spehar
Jasmina Stevanov
Luca Ticini
Oliver Tošković
Ian Verstegen
Johan Wagemans
Maarten Wijntjes
Daniele Zavagno
Sunčica Zdravković

VSAC is a satellite conference of ECVP
European Conference on Visual Perception, the leading European conference on visual science.