Pain and pleasure: The art and science of body representation
Judgments of what is beautiful or ugly are ubiquitous in daily life. Such judgments are routinely made about the most mundane to the most sophisticated objects. The processes underlying the sense of what is beautiful or ugly imply perception and appraisal of objects of art and involve a variety of emotions (ranging from pain to pleasure) towards them. The human body represents a vast range of aesthetic experiences and has attracted the interest of artists long before the discovery of the brain structures specifically dedicated to it. However, research on the link between brain representation of the body and aesthetic appreciation is comparatively meager. We plan to address this issue in a "blue sky" symposium which brings together neuroscientists working on art perception and experience as well as on the feelings of pain and pleasure, researchers from VR and affective engineering, and also philosophers and art specialists.