Computational Beauty: Aesthetic Judgment at the Intersection of Art and Science

  • Emily L. Spratt
  • Ahmed ElgammalEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8925)


In part one of the Critique of Judgment, Immanuel Kant wrote that “the judgment of taste ... is not a cognitive judgment, and so not logical, but is aesthetic [1].” While the condition of aesthetic discernment has long been the subject of philosophical discourse, the role of the arbiters of that judgment has more often been assumed than questioned. The art historian, critic, connoisseur, and curator have long held the esteemed position of the aesthetic judge, their training, instinct, and eye part of the inimitable subjective processes that Kant described as occurring upon artistic evaluation. Although the concept of intangible knowledge in regard to aesthetic theory has been much explored, little discussion has arisen in response to the development of new types of artificial intelligence as a challenge to the seemingly ineffable abilities of the human observer. This paper examines the developments in the field of computer vision analysis of paintings from canonical movements within the history of Western art and the reaction of art historians to the application of this technology in the field. Through an investigation of the ethical consequences of this innovative technology, the unquestioned authority of the art expert is challenged and the subjective nature of aesthetic judgment is brought to philosophical scrutiny once again.


Computer Vision Aesthetic Judgment Aesthetic Theory Critical Theory Formalism 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Art and ArchaeologyPrinceton UniversityNJUSA
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceRutgers UniversityNJUSA

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