Posted on: October 30, 2009
Untitled by Mark Rothko. 1948
Philip Ball’s recent article, Who’s afraid of the avant-garde, provoked much thought. Why do we seem to “get” modern art, but not modern, experimental music? I think the author nears the core of the issue here:
There are certainly parallels in the way we make sense of acoustic and visual information. Chief among these rules are the “Gestalt principles” identified by a group of German-based psychologists in the early 20th century. These are a series of implicit mental rules that help people to make good guesses at how to interpret complex sensory stimuli by grouping them together. We make assumptions about continuity, for example: the aeroplane that flies into a cloud is the same one that flies out the other side.