Carrasco, M., Katz, S.M. &
WInter, J. (1993). Multidimensional scaling and experimental aesthetics:
Escher's prints as a case study. Empirical Studies of the Arts, ed. Colin
Martindale. 11(1): 1-23.
This article represents a case-study in the applicability of multidimensional
scaling (MDS) to experimental aesthetics. MDS allows experimenters to
ask observes to compare stimuli without specifying which criteria they
should use. MDS plots data the similarity judgments - in a "psychological
space" whose number of dimensions reflects the number of ways the
stimuli are perceived to differ. An experiment attempted to tap into the
criteria used by non-specialists when viewing prints by the Dutch artist
M.C. Escher, and to study whether or not these criteria correspond to
those Escher himself used to classify his work. Forty observers were shown
every possible non-duplicate pair combination of twenty-six slides of
Escher's prints, and were asked to rate the similarity of each pair, using
any criteria they wished. Three dimensions were identified in this experiment
("dimensionality," "shape," and "degree of realism").
A neighborhood analysis (based on octants) suggests that observers' perceptions
seem to correspond to Escher's groupings.