An Exploratory Pilot Study on Pictorial Narrativity and Eye Scan Patterns: 22nd Biennal Congress of The International Association of Empirical Aesthetics (IAEA), August 22, 2012, Taiwan

Michael Ranta, Jo Ching-Hua Chan (Editor)

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


The philosophical debate on the nature of narrative has been mainly concernedwith literary narratives, whereas forms of non-literary and especially pictorialnarrativity have been rather neglected. Within traditional art history, however, thenarrative potential of the visual arts has usually been taken for granted, though rarelyby attempting to elucidate any deeper cognitive, semiotic, and philosophical aspectsinvolved. The question whether narrative should be regarded as an exclusively verbalor verbalノ┞ H;ゲWS ふキくWく ミWIWゲゲ;ヴキノ┞ ヮヴWゲ┌ヮヮラゲキミェ デエW ヴWIWキ┗Wヴゲげ ヮヴW┗キラ┌ゲ ニミラ┘ノWSェW ラaverbally transmitted plots) phenomenon has of course been discussed withinnarratological research. Undoubtedly, there might be certain limitations に thoughperhaps also advantages - to pictorial media compared to verbal ones as to theirnarrative potential. Discussions on these lines have usually been more or less of atheoretical nature, although sometimes research from cognitive science has beentaken into account. Nevertheless, empirical and psychological research may have animportant contributing role to play, and it seems that scholars within narratology -compared to other branches of philosophy, most notably perhaps philosophy of mind- are somewhat too reluctant to recognize that role.In this paper, I intend to outline how empirical studies making use of eye-trackingmethods may help to clarify these issues. Numerous studies seem to havecorroborated that eye movements are strongly synchronized with and indicative ofcognitive processes going on during spoken or written word recognition, sentenceprocessing and picture or visual scene encoding に and mental imagery in general.Now, as to the study of narrativity, which certainly is a quite complex, heterogeneousphenomenon, it would seem fruitful to focus upon some of its constituents which -according to common usage within narratological research - appear to belong to itscore structure. We suggest, without any claims of being exhaustive in this respect, that the following ones fruitfully could be considered within an experimentalapproach:(i) Chronological ordering(ii) The establishment of causal agency and effects(iii) The establishment of goal-related agency and intended effects(iv) The establishment of breaks or deviations from/within canonical scripts orschemas The purpose of this paper will be to discuss to which extent the comprehensionand identification of narrative features as here outlined can be indicated byeye-tracking methods and to which extent there will be differences according tovarious viewing conditions, with and without the inclusion of explicit and specificverbal texts (rather than any tacit acquaintance with common action scripts, or thelike) directing or influencing the narrative structuring of the used pictorial stimulusmaterial. Put in another way, to which extent will there be intersubjective overlaps orregularities concerning the narrative comprehension of pictures? These differencesand overlaps could be registered in form of verbal reports made by the beholders.However, it will also be hypothesized that concurrent saccadic movements andfixations, reflecting attention and underlying cognitive processing, might becorrelated with the narrative structuring of pictorial stimuli. Preliminary results froma pilot study, making use of eye-tracking laboratory at Lund University, will bepresented. 
Original languageEnglish
PublisherNational Taiwan Normal University (NTNU)/ Intternational Association of Empirical Aesthetics (IAEA)
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeO2 Other


  • Art History
  • Konstvetenskap


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