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EVIDENCE                                                            +
                                 By GK Rowe...
E vid e nc e - ba s e d A rt | G K R ow e p ag e 2

     While Evidence-based Art has elevated the importance
     art pl...
E vid e nc e - ba s e d A rt | G K R ow e 3

     contradictory to the environments in prehistoric times            As on...
E vid e nc e - ba s e d A rt | G K R ow e p ag e 4

     “Visual art can be traced as far back as the Paleolithic        ...
E vid e nc e - ba s e d A rt | G K R ow e p ag e 5

     The peak shift effect can be applied to human                   ...
E vid e nc e - ba s e d A rt | G K R ow e p ag e 6

GK ROWE, XD is an Experience Designer and Principal Partner,       ...
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Evidence-based Art


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Collaborative concepts surrounding Evidence-based Art, the evolution of Art and Neuroaesthetics regarding Patient-Focused practices in the Health Care industry.

Published in: Health & Medicine

Evidence-based Art

  1. 1. EVIDENCE + BASED AR By GK Rowe, XD Many of us Gen Xers are at t he cusp of caring for our communit y in a time when our healt hcare system is at the edge of a major breakt hro ugh or o n the verge of a major breakdow n. As a result, there are mult iple concepts gaining progress relat ed to aesthet ics in the healt hcare e nvironment. One of these earliest concepts is Evidence -base d Design or Evide nce-based Art. “Evidence-base d Art is the process of basing decisions about art in healt h- care on credible re search to achieve the best possible outcom es.” The quest ion should be what is the credible research? Art ist and physician, Henry Domke, MD has an art icle o n his blog title d W here’s the Beef? The Evidence for Evidence-based Art and D r. Rut h Bre nt Tofle suggests “designers are embracing it witho ut realizing that this is such a new field that we don’t know much [abo ut] yet.” Q7ASSOCIATES.COM
  2. 2. E vid e nc e - ba s e d A rt | G K R ow e p ag e 2 While Evidence-based Art has elevated the importance art plays in the enhanced care of patients, I think much of the research lacks the inclusion and credentials from fine art professionals. Within my studies of Evidence- based art, there is little attention given to art educators, artist, curators or historians; yet, when you compare the studies done in neuroscience with art history, it is apparent that science is behind the times when it comes to understanding the relationship between woman or man and art. With the advancement of technology and neuroscience, scientists are rapidly gaining more information about the master “minds” of artists. Most of the findings in Evidence-based Art today are done through controlled-group questionnaires developed from healthcare professionals, academics and art consultants. While their findings are significant, I think it is danger- ously premature to begin establishing standardized processes used in patient-focused aesthetics. Making The research presented fails to comprehensively such claims as “abstract art is the worst” is inconsistent examine the evolutionary process of art and its impact with our cultural evolution with visual images. Further- on modern societies to more specifically enhance more, there is power in both knowledge and fear and I patients’ recovery through a process inclusive of would suggest that many art consultants will be eager to nueroaesthetic concepts and experience design own a piece of this conceptual pie. practices. Formulating guidelines for Evidence-based Art is Taking a look back 30,000 years ago to the time when problematic because it attempts to define measureable Nomadic people started making statues and images of outcomes based on a fraction of information gathered the human body, we can begin to understand our con- under diverse situations. According to studies reported nection to abstract art. The Venus of Willendorf, a by the Center for Health Design: A Guide to Evidence- relic of our ancient past, provides the first clue as to based Art by Kathy Hathorn, MA, and Upali Nanda, why our modern world is so dominated by unrealistic Phd., reports “In the Biological Origins of Art, Aiken images. The Venus of Willendorf’s features are gro- (1998) makes a scientific as well as philosophical tesquely exaggerated with the breast, stomach, hips, argument for the emotional impact of art and its impor- and thighs prominently enhanced. Carved with great tance to humankind’s survival as a species.” Art has care, the statue has no arms and the face is non- been an integral component of human evolution, both as existent. The statue would have been easy to carry and a species and as a society. The report presents that may have served as a symbol of fertility or mother- images of nature are more appropriate in healing art hood. These features provide clues as to what was based on the concept of “biophilia,” which was coined most important to the Nomadic peoples that lived in the by Edward O. Wilson. Dr. Roger Ulrich, Ph.D., EDAC, harsh ice-age environment where fertility and fattiness further interprets this by explaining that “humankind’s would have been highly desired. In our modern soci- evolutionary survival skills in a natural world have hard- ety, we live in a world of abundance and can see exam- wired humans to find nature calming and restorative.” ples all around us where we have continued to empha- Furthermore, it is suggested that as modern humans we size those features we most desire that are extremely have an inherent connection to nature derived through our ancestors. Q7ASSOCIATES.COM
  3. 3. E vid e nc e - ba s e d A rt | G K R ow e 3 contradictory to the environments in prehistoric times As one of the first settled civilizations, the Egyptians which was mostly defined by scarcity. It would be un- relied heavily on agricultural means of survival and realistic to claim that modern people respond to the adopted behaviors that led to the investigation and ex- same types of images that were important to their ploration of mathematics as it related to the human ancestors particularly if the images reflect our relation- body. Their visual communication reflected that which ship to the environment in which we live. While early was most fundamental to the civilization’s survival hunter-gatherers valued and emphasized fertility and which thrived through structures, organization, and fattiness in their culture, our modern knowledge-worker order. The images created consistently depict the culture values are expressed in vastly different ways values of their culture for more than 3,000 years until than those defining the Venus of Willendorf. “Over Egyptians started trading with the Greeks by way of the 10.2 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical proce- Mediterranean Sea. dures were performed in the United States in 2008. The overall number of cosmetic procedures has increased The ancient Greeks were preoccupied with mathemat- 162 percent since the collection of the statistics began in ics and philosophy and with a fixation on perfection 1997. The most frequently performed nonsurgical and beauty of the human body, inspired by their belief procedure was Botox injections and the most popular that Gods took human form. Similar to the Nomadic surgical procedure was breast augmentation.” This ancestors approach and purpose, the Greeks developed statistic alone reflects the values most important to our a highly skilled athletic body – filling their temples modern culture and the ways in which we have with life-like statues of their Gods and Goddesses to embraced aesthetics. As our modern society became achieve an exaggerated reality; thus, exemplifying the more culturally diverse, what we chose to exaggerate values most important to their culture. changed even further. Similar historic references to the use of visual images are evident in the advancement of It wasn’t until the Renaissance period, late 14th to early societies from gatherer-hunter to the conceptual age. 15th century, that art became Art and the creative thinkers gained the ranks of the elite and established themselves as Artists. Simultaneously, the influence of religion and humanism integrated with power and authority, gave way to narrative imagery with allegoric references throughout the Renaissance. Italy would experience the bubonic plague or the “Black Death” which would affect the economy, cause rapid expansion of hospitals and stimulate commissioned work of religious images. Most of the theories developed for Evidence-based Art encourage the use of natural images derived from evolutionary concepts that support human connection to shelter and protection instilled from our ancestors; and, through emotional congruence or mood- congruence processing which implies that in a stressful situation negative emotions are likely to be projected on to the surrounding environment by a patient, which explains the adverse reaction to abstract or ambiguous art. The Guide for Evidence-based Art reports, Q7ASSOCIATES.COM
  4. 4. E vid e nc e - ba s e d A rt | G K R ow e p ag e 4 “Visual art can be traced as far back as the Paleolithic The Peak-Shift theory, a principle in animal discrimina- man’s cave art and continues to be an integral part of tion, helps explain human pattern recognition and people’s live[s].” It’s a small wonder then, that the use aesthetic preference. This is a fundamental resource to of art in hospitals dates back to the 14th century, when consider when practicing Evidence-based Art to fully they were church operated. “ While it is apparent that understand human experiences with works of “art” Prehistoric humans had an affinity to their environment from the Paleolithic period to modern day culture. especially as it pertained to shelter and protection, it is This theory gives insight to behavioral responses to an more important to evaluate the relationship between aesthetic environment as it relates to survival. The artist and woman or man. It is also important to note study, using herring gulls, was demonstrated to explain that viewing appropriate nature images can reduce stress neuro responses to abstraction. Adult herring gulls and reduce pain as reported through psychological have large yellow beaks with a red dot that is signifi- testing and self-reporting surveys. So, why have we cant to the visual response from herring gull chicks as it spent years producing abstract images that reflect our relates to their survival. The process of how young most fundamental values when they are reportedly chicks respond to their mother’s beak for food is an inappropriate for enhancing our connection to our important principle in understanding the evocativeness recovery process in a healthcare setting? Jeff Hawkins, of much of visual art. When an adult herring gull has a founder of Redwood Center for Theoretical Neurosci- grub in its beak, young chicks respond by opening their ence suggests, “Modern art, in its tendency toward mouths wide and cheeping excitedly. This might seem abstraction, does not depict anything less realistic than like intelligent behavior on the part of a hungry young- art that depicts a human form or any other place or ster seeing food, but herring gull chicks are not very object in a more photo-realistic manner. Rather, it is intelligent. If the red spot was painted yellow, the just depicting a different place in our brain: a place be- chicks ignore the food. Show them an empty beak with tween the invariant (photo-realist) representations at the a red spot and they gape and cheep as before. In fact a top of hierarchies, and the essential, raw sensory data of bright red dot on a vivid yellow pencil elicits extra incoming input.” strong gaping and when presented with the option of large yellow stick with three red bands, the chicks favored the more abstract over the mother’s beak. Applying science to the arts expands the “evidence” in Evidence-based Art principles by identifying more acutely the impact art can have on clinical and behavioral outcomes for patient focused aesthetics. V.S. Ramachandran, Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and Professor with the Psychology Depart- ment and Neurosciences Program at the University of California, San Diego, is best known for his work in behavioral neurology. Ramachandran has explored the connection between the brain and art and has begun the investigative journey with the four-inch oolitic lime- stone sculpture Venus of Willendorf to better understand the “human artistic experience and the neural mechanisms that mediate it.” Ramchandran uses the Peak Shift Theory to explain the behavioral response to images as they relate to life’s most fundamental necessities. Q7ASSOCIATES.COM
  5. 5. E vid e nc e - ba s e d A rt | G K R ow e p ag e 5 The peak shift effect can be applied to human can be different from how they think they do or what recognition and aesthetic preference throughout the they say. There needs to be more quantitative data history of man creating images. Consider the way a collected through neuroscience to make these types of skilled cartoonist produces a caricature of a famous face. judgments; that said, since we all judge the world The cartoonist takes the average of all faces, subtracts it through our own experiences it may be that we will from the subject’s face and then amplifies the never be able to properly define what artwork is differences to produce a caricature. The final result is a appropriate for a patient other than the patients them- drawing that is even more like the original. The selves. For now, it is important to continue the dia- cartoonist uses the same fundamental principles learned logue between artists and scientists about the possibili- and used by the Nomadic peoples to create the Venus of ties and limitations surrounding aesthetics in health- Willendorf. In our modern culture, we respond to care. Reports indicate that less than two percent of caricatures in much the same way sea gull chicks design decisions are based off of solid evidence. responded to the exaggerated abstraction of their Evidence-based Art is significant to the role art will mother’s beak. It can be argued that a Picasso portrait have in the future development of healthcare facilities. is nothing more than a caricature - when you compare Having the best research is not enough. It is imperative the subjects to the paintings, their similarities become to the process that observations, insights and practices obvious. carry over to advance aesthetic decisions. At the end of the day, I think all art consultants that work in the “Despite all that has been said, there might appear to be healthcare industry should be participating in the an important disanalogy between science and art. practices of Evidence-based Art by continuing to learn Scientific understanding has an object – the natural as much as possible about the field by implementing, world or physical universe. This is what the scientists’ evaluating and questioning the research to improve and theories are about. But we have yet to state clearly what enhance the aesthetic environment in healthcare. artistic understanding is about. In terms of focus, an artistic process is concerned with issues of look-and- feel, whereas a scientific approach focuses on deeper, more systematic issues like underlying architecture. In terms of methodology, art relies on intuition and experi- ence, whereas science depends on rigorous investigation and analysis. In terms of validation, an art-led process often rests on subjective or personal evaluation, whereas a process that’s grounded in science relies on rigorous testing using quantitative metrics.” I don’t disagree with the concept of nature-based art and being sensitive to subject matter that will potentially enhance a patient’s recovery process; however, I’m not convinced by the data presented that “ambiguous or detrimental visual elements (including art) may have emotionally, and even physiologically, harmful effects.”12 Most of the data collected has been through focus groups, questionnaires and surveys, which are Artwork by Alex Hughes poor tools for learning about behavior since they are documented by actual use; and, what people actually do Q7ASSOCIATES.COM
  6. 6. E vid e nc e - ba s e d A rt | G K R ow e p ag e 6 GK ROWE, XD is an Experience Designer and Principal Partner, TIFFANY GARRITANO is the lead for graphic and web design for Director of Creative Development for Q7 Associates a multimedia Q7. Her experience as designer, webmaster, art director, project marketing and design firm located in Indianapolis Indiana. GK has manager and copywriter allows her to creatively deliver effective formal education in Fine Arts, Design, Natural Wellness and solutions. She also helps solidify Q7's unified cross-platform Education including studies abroad in Italy, London and Paris. He marketing strategy by having a combination of design and techni- continues to infuse creative solutions and experience design cal knowledge. By designing for communication, she ensures that concepts into the business world through multidiscipline all projects exceed client objectives and inspire a wide range of mediums applying neuroaesthetics in the healthcare, hospitality audiences. and corporate industries. Committed to a higher level of aesthetics, GK serves as the President for the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art Society, co-developed the art program for the InterContinental Chicago-O’hare hotel and continues to support art education as a faculty member at the Art Institute of Indianapolis and is a member of the National Arts Education Association. references Domke, Henry. "Where's the Beef? The Evidence for Evidence-based Art". Health Care Fine Art. May 2006 <>. Gordon, Graham. Philosophy of the Arts: An Introduction to Aesthetics. New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, 2005. Jeff , Hawkins. "The Cellular Architecture of Abstract Art". The Beuatiful Brain. 2009 SCOTT ALLEN TUCKER is a Principal Partner, Director of Media <>. and Communications for Q7 Associates. Degreed in Telecommu- nications and English, Scott has worked in a multitude of business Kathy, Hathorn. "A Guide to Evidence-based Art". and marketing development projects. From the sets of independ- The Center for Health Design 2008: 1-20. ent films to the conference rooms of corporate America, Scott "Liposuction No Longer the Most Popular Surgical possesses a wide array of talents within the communications Procedure According to New Statistics". American field. As a writer, Scott has experience in screenplays, training Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 2008 manuals, marketing content and magazine publications, copy <>. editing and content management. He has also worked as a Peck, Richard. "Emerging trends in healthcare". Health Care director, actor and producer for various film and video projects. Design Magazine March 30, 2010. Scott oversees the content development for clients’ projects, V.S., Ramachandran. "The Cellular Architecture of Abstract including any media and press. Art". The Journal of Consciousness Studies. 1999 <>. Q7ASSOCIATES.COM