there's been a single blue line of crayon drawn across a wall in every house....
|© 2017 cartophile's log|
Several years ago, a team of psychologists led by Takahiko Masuda analyzed artwork from across East Asian and Western cultures, with particular focus on pantings created between the 16th and 18th centuries. Masuda was looking to measure something in particular - the height of the horizon line. What emerged was that the horizon line in East Asian art was repeatedly higher.
Masuda maintained that the placement of the horizon in a piece of art is a doorway to exploring the social constuction of the artist's culture. A high horizon line means that the field of information is deep, with greater room for contextual details. The visual layout of Western art allows for less background space and the arrangement of one or two objects in the foreground, indicating that Western culture is more marked by logical thinking and analytical reasoning. This points to a culture placing responsibility for the creation of events in the world in the hands of its individuals. The visual layout of East Asian art highlights a holistic reflective style. In sharing more background elements, East Asian art is less focused on one or two particular objects, indicating a belief that various external forces beyond the control of individuals are reponsible for the occurance of events within society.
The same team of psychologists took their reasearch to schools in both Canada and Japan and asked children to create a piece of visual art. The experiment reflected the team's earlier findings - Japanese children's (and adult's) art is more context rich while the art of their Western counterparts focuses more on singular objects in the foreground.
|collages by Japanese (L) & Canadian (R) children|
Senzaki, S., Masuda, T., & Nand, K. (2014) Holistic versus analytic expressions in artworks: Cross-cultural differences and similarities in drawings and collages by Canadian and Japanese school-age children. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 45(8), 1297-1316
Masuda, T., Gonzales, R., Kwan, L., & Nisbett, R.E. (2008) Culture and aesthetic preference: Comparing the attention to context of East Asians and Americans. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(9), 1260-1275