Keynote Speech
Modeling Aesthetics and Emotions in Visual Content: From Vincent van Gogh to Robotics and Vision

James Z. Wang
The Pennsylvania State University, USA


As inborn characteristics, humans possess the ability to judge visual aesthetics, feel the emotions from the environment, and comprehend others’ emotional expressions. Many exciting applications become possible if robots or computers can be empowered with similar capabilities. Modeling aesthetics, evoked emotions, and emotional expressions automatically in unconstrained situations, however, is daunting due to the lack of a full understanding of the relationship between low-level visual content and high-level aesthetics or emotional expressions. With the growing availability of data, it is possible to tackle these problems using machine learning and statistical modeling approaches. In the talk, I provide an overview of our research in the last two decades on data-driven analyses of visual artworks and digital visual content for modeling aesthetics and emotions. First, I discuss our analyses of styles in visual artworks. Art historians have long observed the highly characteristic brushstroke styles of Vincent van Gogh and have relied on discerning these styles for authenticating and dating his works. In our work, we compared van Gogh with his contemporaries by statistically analyzing a massive set of automatically extracted brushstrokes. A novel extraction method is developed by exploiting an integration of edge detection and clustering-based segmentation. Evidence substantiates that van Gogh’s brushstrokes are strongly rhythmic. Next, I describe an effort to model the aesthetic and emotional characteristics in visual contents such as photographs. By taking a data-driven approach, using the Internet as the data source, we show that computers can be trained to recognize various characteristics that are highly relevant to aesthetics and emotions. Future computer systems equipped with such capabilities are expected to help millions of users with unimagined ways. Finally, I highlight our research on automated recognition of bodily expression of emotion. We propose a scalable and reliable crowdsourcing approach for collecting in-the-wild perceived emotion data for computers to learn to recognize the body languages of humans. Comprehensive statistical analysis revealed many interesting insights from the dataset. A system to model the emotional expressions based on bodily movements, named ARBEE (Automated Recognition of Bodily Expression of Emotion), has also been developed and evaluated.

Full color PDF file (1.2 MB)

Citation: James Z. Wang ``Modeling Aesthetics and Emotions in Visual Content: From Vincent van Gogh to Robotics and Vision,'' Proceedings of the Joint Workshop on Aesthetic and Technical Quality Assessment of Multimedia and Media Analytics for Societal Trends, in conjunction with the ACM International Conference on Multimedia, 2 pages, Virtual, October 2020.

Copyright 2020 James Z. Wang. Personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or to reuse any copyrighted component of this work in other works, must be obtained from the author.

Last Modified: September 14, 2020
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