Visualization by Laura Commare

Visualization by Laura Commare

“More than the Sum of Its Parts”. Opportunities and Challenges of Empirical Approaches to the Art Sciences

Laura Commare

PhD project

Partly founded by: WWTF-Project “Time makes the difference! Uncovering the nature of aesthetic experience” (PI Univ.-Prof. Dr. Helmut Leder, Co-PI Univ.-Prof. Dr. Raphael Rosenberg)

Over the last decade we have been observing a new trend in the humanities and art sciences towards the systematic use of empirical methods. Yet, empirical approaches to art research are not without critique. Empirical studies are often faced with skepticism and seen as outside-subject interference with the natural and social sciences. The ability of empirical research to adequately address holistic concepts is doubted with the consequence that empirical approaches to questions of art are frequently granted no sense of purpose. The aim of this thesis is to draft a reasoned response to the question on the value of empirical art research and the conditions under which it should be pursued. To this end, I will discuss strengths as well as challenges that may be attributed to empirical approaches and investigate their practical relevance by reverting to three specific case studies pertaining to the field of (empirical) reception research. The discussion follows two focal points: a content discussion of the results obtained by empirical means, and a methodical discussion which critically examines the respective approaches of the selected case studies.