We intend to support the hypothesis of humanities scholars (Jung, Eliade, Dumézil) of the universalism and contemplative effect of religious symbols with natural science methodology. Our primary purpose is to understand which non-representative visual features can play a role in creating the contemplative experience. We will use the following method to achieve our goal: We will create experimental artworks with the help of mandalas due to their well-known importance in meditative rituals: using digital analysis software, we will highlight mandalas' common visual features (proportion, color balance, main shapes etc.) and integrate the results into non-representative abstracted experimental artworks. We will project the artworks for the subjects and record their brain waves with a portable EEG device. We will compare the data with previous EEG results measured during Buddhist meditation, confirming the alpha wave increase during contemplation. Based on our findings, we will conclude which visual elements can contribute to the formation of a contemplative brain state. These results can be used by contemporary artists, meditators to improve meditation techniques, and academic scholars to reveal new connections in theoretical questions of contemplative science.
The project aims to utilize mandalas in order to identify visual elements, such as line, shape, color, value, form, space, balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, rhythm, proportion, and unity (Brommer 2011), which occurs most often in them. The research intends to create experimental artworks highlighting these visual characteristics to measure their effectiveness on brain waves that alter the meditative state of mind. The project's overall purpose is to find visual features that can play a role in contributing to the contemplative experience.
Some humanities scholars hypothesize that all world religions' depictions contain similar visual elements (Jung, Eliade, Dumézil, etc.) that can play a role in creating contemplation. Mandala art contains these visual patterns, which also appear in the art of the world's leading religions. (Jung, 2019)
Scientists hypothesize that art (including religious imagery) has an adaptive function and can alter brain activity (Sütterlin, Menninghaus, Horváth, etc.). In addition, art historians (such as Elkins) argue that visual art (including religious art) can evoke contemplative feelings. Although there is no unified idea of the brain areas responsible for religious experience, some peer-reviewed publications (Lagopolous, Travis, Kasamatsu) contain information about changes in alpha waves during Buddhist meditation, a type of religious contemplation.
HYPOTHESES OF OUR PROJECT
1. Based on the theories mentioned above, our project hypothesizes that certain non-representative visual elements can play a role in creating contemplation.
2. Religious symbols have survived cultural changes not only because of their meaning but also because of their visual characteristics participating in the creation of contemplation.
3. Humanities scholars (Jung, Eliade, Dumézil) hypothesis can be supported and confirmed by natural science methodology.
my supervisor was Sally M. Promey
Professor of Religion and Visual Culture; Coordinator of the Program in Religion and the Arts; Professor of American Studies and Religious Studies; and Director, Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion Yale University
I was researching religious depictions in the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library and extended my knowledge of research methodology.
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