Truly Virtual Web Art Museum presents
THE RATIONAL ART THEORY OF PROF. HERBERT W. FRANKE
Prof. Herbert W. Franke
Herbert W. Franke
work of art stimulates perceptual processes in the observer, listener, or
reader. A cohesive
conceptualization of fine art, music, literature, etc., requires that they share
common characteristic properties. One such similarity lies in the fact that
these products are all absorbed through perception.
The rules that govern perception must also be valid for the consumption
of art, and it would therefore make sense to research whether characteristic
properties of art can be differentiated.
one understands that the brain and sensory organs function on a physical basis,
that perception itself is above all a product of data processing. This of course
depends on the filtering of useful information from the multitude of incoming
stimuli. This process can be broken down into many pieces, such as analysis,
filtering, and decoding of included information, whereby the large data pool is
dramatically reduced. A large part
of this goes on to the subconscious center, in which reflexes are stimulated,
such as control of body movements. Consciousness, which can be seen as the main
memory, receives only a small part of the data, that because of special
distinguishing features, such as ones innovative character, are recognized as
especially important. Now begins
the last and most complicated step of the analysis – the one to be consciously
executed. Known strategies of thought are enlisted, especially with the help of
previous knowledge. In this way – stimulated by association, contents from
short-term and long-term memory are recalled.
1. The schema of conscious data
every technical data processing system, the neural net is also subjected to
finite physical restrictions, such as limited work speed that results from
limited memory and the capacity of information flow.
In the diagram are given the largest values of the human brain; these are
values that come from psychological testing. A fundamental result is that a
human can only consciously absorb around 16 bits per second, and that the
apparent contents are not capable of displaying more than around 160 bits.
On average, these values are calculated so that one can grasp the
impression of the complexity of the environment. The complexity of the
registered patterns can over burden the system; this shows that with the help of
definite methods, such as those based on approximations or probabilities,
useable results are often produced. When one sees the benefits of the goal of an
overview of the situations, problems, etc. then the complexity of the situation
can be reduced to 160 bits.
a person comes up against an information source that offers a flow of
information, in which the complexity is in perfect agreement with the abilities
of the processing system. Such patterns or stimuli are seen to be pleasing.
It is also possible to purposely conceptualize an information stream such
that the described ideal preconditions correspond to the reception of
information. Such information streams are seen as works of art.
2. Control of cognitive behaviors
cognitively achievable actions are realized through emotion.
There are, in consciousness, acute signals that are critical for
survival. There are pleasing
emotions that lead to the perpetuation of a situation, and other unpleasant
emotions, that serve as an impetus for avoidance.
The emotions dedicated to perceptive assimilation are as follows:
Boredom, when fewer than ~16
bits/sec come into consciousness, they stir a search for a productive source of
Irritation, when more than ~16
bits/sec are received, then one attempts to comprehend through increased
concentration, or, if one is unsuccessful, abandons the information source;
Interest, when one receives ~16
bits/sec – the situation is felt to be desirable.
3. The control process during the
search for a source of data with an adequate output capacity
This formula of action gives us an explanation of one’s emotional function when confronted with a work of art. Works of art – as defined above – are so structured as to evoke a successful perceptual response, awaken interest, and stimulate the appropriate emotions of perceptual behaviour.
do the given values of data capacity come from?
are the results from a series of tests of perceptual psychology and learning
theory that were done in the 60s. Similar research come from earlier periods,
and were first translated later in the Shannon Information, whereby their
general validity emerged. In the
meantime they have been confirmed and refined through further research.
the details of the standard capacity of the human brain exact enough to draw
Pertaining to art, sufficient approximations need only agree within an order of
magnitude. The functional pattern remains the same.
art forms in which perceptual content changes over time, the 16
bit rule can be used. How
does it behave in unchangeable art forms, such as images?
Complex images are scanned according to a specific pattern, so the 16 bit rule
both interpretations of patterns valid for every art form?
derived rules are commensurate to the extent of the classic concept of art,
where the perception of beauty plays a role, and also in so far as an
explanation of modern art is necessary, as one can explain in which respect
these depart from the classic paradigm.
- It is
known that associative catalytic elements give rise to different emotions, which
are specifically used in communication. That
memory capacity must be expended for the coding of semantic elements, such as
words, also applies to the schema of data processing.
what does one need a complicated structuring of artwork, such that any emotions
can be stimulated by associative elements?
“Works of Art”, which depend solely on the associative stimulation of
feeling, but are insufficiently structured, will have a minimal impact.
Such works of lower complexity are considered “Kitsch”.
strategies are to be applied in order to process works of high complexity, as
well as those than overextend the 160 bit capacity of awareness?
are many strategies. One can search
for efficient coding, for example with the help of memory recall, or one can
split the situation into component parts and deal with each in succession.
The most comfortable solution is to arbitrarily simplify the situation (a
method that often leads to misunderstandings, pseudoknowledge, and the like).
does the artist present his work without using information theory to properly
only the artist, but every person has learned in life how to prepare his
conversational partner so that his presentation will be understood.
In difficult cases, the artist, in between specific work phases, puts
himself in the place of the audience on a trial basis, or he displays his work
to a knowledgeable colleague before its release. For the rest, the declared
worth need not be heeded, as the observer, listener, or reader can, within
certain limitations, ascribe excess worth or experience boredom (as
unfortunately is often the case in art exhibitions).
these and further questions regarding the fundamental issues of
information-based psychological models of art merit a more thorough treatment.
This can be found in my book ‘Introduction
to the Cybernetic Aesthetic‘,
which has so far appeared in German and Spanish, but not yet in English.
Dr. Rodney Chang
G. Frank, ‘Grundlagenprobleme der Informationsästhetik
und erste Anwendungen auf die mime pur‘,
Dissertation, Technische Hochschule Stuttgart 1959
Helmar G. Frank und Herbert W. Franke, ‘Ästhetische Information – Estetika informacio‘, Eine Einführung in die kybernetische Ästhetik, Akademia Libroservo, I.f.Kybernetik-Verlag, Berlin, Paderborn 1997
Herbert W. Franke, ‘Kybernetische Ästhetik - Phänomen Kunst‘ ‚ Ernst Reinhardt Verlag München 1979 (3. Edition ‘Phänomen Kunst‘, Verlag Nadolski, Stuttgart 1967)
Moles, ‘Théorie de
l’information et perception esthétique’, Flammarion, Paris 1958
Jürgen Schmidhuber, ‘Driven by compression progress: A simple
essential aspects of
subjective beauty, novelty, surprise, interestingness, attention,
art, science, music, jokes’. In G. Pezzulo, M. V.
Butz, O. Sigaud, and G.
Baldassarre, editors, Anticipatory Behavior in Adaptive
Learning Systems, from Sensorimotor to Higher-level Cognitive Capabilities,
Heinz Zemanek, ‘Elementare Informationstheorie`, R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Wien 1959
Exhibit Introduction Contacts Biographical Art by Prof. Franke Art by Dr. Chang Comments by Franke on this perpetual online exhibition