Looking at Looking

Dr MIchael Garbutt from UNSW, left and Dr Soheil Ashrafi from RCDC, right, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Looking at Looking

Raffles academic, Dr Soheil Ashrafi, has been collaborating with UNSW Art & Design academics, Dr Michael Garbutt and Dr Andrew Yip, on a research project utilising the cutting-edge technology Mobile Eye-Tracker to explore gallery visitation experiences.

In contrast to the vast majority of eye tracking studies of subjects viewing paintings, which are laboratory-based, this project combines eye-tracking studies with a hermeneutic phenomenological analysis of the embodied experience of viewing paintings in a gallery. Using data from a head-mounted, mobile eye tracker and an accompanying audio recording of a subject’s running commentary of his search to locate two paintings by Picasso in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the project employs Heidegger’s ‘fore-structures of the existential and concrete situatedness’ to model the situated gaze. This methodology can transform the eye tracker from a diagnostic tool to an interactive device with which gallery visitors become active producers of images, enabling them to reflect on current visual practices and imagine new ways of seeing and being.

The paper emerged from the study will be published in the next issue of Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art.  

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