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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, S 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.1
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, S
Publisher: University of Tasmania
Additional Information:

Copyright 2009, the artists, the authors and the University of

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