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The arresting image


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Holmes, JH, Brassington, P, Lee, F, Ballen, R, Davies, A, Fisher, Fred, King, AK, Macmillan, T, Pahoki, S and Rees, SA ORCID: 0000-0001-7603-8724 2009 , The arresting image , University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania.

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The mean time spent viewing a work of art was found to be 27.2 seconds, with a median time of 17.0 seconds.
Having worked in the visual arts field for many years we were all too aware of the fleeting acquaintances some viewers have with exhibited artworks. We tell ourselves that visual art is pluralistic and extremely diverse and therefore the broad appeal of artworks will vary considerably. We also accept that even a passing glance is perfectly acceptable, as many people have the capacity to speed-read visual information - particularly if they are art savvy.
At the same time, some artworks ‘captivate’ the viewer for longer periods than others, and we were intrigued to speculate on whether there were any commonalities that could be identified. Here we ran into issues such as accessibility and challenge, where the former may attract more attention and the latter retain a smaller number of viewers for longer. Indeed challenge is common to much ‘contemporary art’ and essentially this is our own field of operation. Crucially also, we are aware that a relationship between the viewer and image will largely depend on just what the viewer brings to the situation.
So at one point we decided to gather together a group of artworks that we thought had the potential to ‘touch a nerve’. To give our project some parameters the driving force behind this exhibition then became related to the question of what is it that holds our attention in this image-saturated world? Our immediate interest lay in the ‘arrest’ factor of artworks. We decided to make essentially subjective decisions based on a personal response to particular artworks that immediately captured our attention. Our agenda can best be described as a mix of intuition and gallery experience.

Item Type: Book
Authors/Creators:Holmes, JH and Brassington, P and Lee, F and Ballen, R and Davies, A and Fisher, Fred and King, AK and Macmillan, T and Pahoki, S and Rees, SA
Publisher: University of Tasmania
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Copyright 2009, the artists, the authors and the University of

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