Publications in Scientific Journals:

G. Franck:
"Sensory intermodal resonance: Towards a neuroaesthetics of architecture";
Journal of Psychology and Psychiatry, 2 (2018), 2; 1 - 8.

English abstract:
Architecture, if addressed as a discipline of art, is that one discipline that speaks to the broadest spectrum of sense modalities: to the remote senses and the close-up senses, to the tactile senses and, in particular, to bodily proprioception. The impression that a piece of architecture makes remains trifling if only the visual sense feels addressed. The vertical structure of a facade remains featureless if no musical sense of rhythm wakes up. A surface looks interesting if the haptic sense nods. A flight of stairs pleases if its sight conveys an idea of moving vertically with grace. A corridor has appropriate proportions if the acoustic sense of width and narrowness feels comfortable. An entrance is well designed if my bodily self-awareness feels welcome and honoured.

The aesthetic quality of architecture thus relies on the contribution not only of senses that are directly stimulated, but of modalities also that indirectly react to the activity of other modalities. The musical sense of rhythm that applauds to the way an array of columns is composed is not stimulated acoustically, the surface needs not to be touched for looking interesting, the bodily self-awareness that feels well or badly treated by the architecture accommodating the body is not informed by the body´s self-perception, but by the neural activity of its outer senses.

Perceptions triggered by the activity of alien sense modalities are irregular regarding orthodox epistemology. We find them orchestrating resonances among one another that make perception realize more than reason understands. Dealing with these resonances represents the real challenge of architectural design.

Intermodal resonance, that is the thesis the lecture illustrates, is what the aesthetics of architecture relies on. In the context of neuroscience, the existence and efficacy of intermodal resonance is an empirical question. The thesis thus leaves the hermeneutical and speculative withdrawal areas of aesthetics. It does so, however, without leaving phenomenology behind.

aesthetic perception, architecture, neurology of perception

"Official" electronic version of the publication (accessed through its Digital Object Identifier - DOI)

Electronic version of the publication:

Created from the Publication Database of the Vienna University of Technology.