GMercyU Philosophy Professor’s Research Highlighted in The Academic Times

March 18, 2021
Dr. Clewis's research used Van Gogh's famous painting "The Starry Night" to measure how art evokes participants' experiences to "the sublime."

GMercyU professor Robert Clewis, PhD, was recently interviewed by The Academic Times regarding his recent research and published paper, “Nature vs art as elicitors of the sublime: A virtual reality study” which will be published in PLOS One in conjunction with a team of psychologists, led by Alice Chirico.

"Sublime is kind of like awe — specifically, aesthetic awe," Dr. Clewis told The Academic Times. "The sublime is this mixed feeling of joy and fear, or something pleasant and something tinged with something negative. We studied this from a psychological point of view."

Dr. Clewis’s research looked to answer the age-old question: “Which is more powerful when it comes to creating a sense of 'the sublime,' art or nature?” The research team studied this question through the use of virtual reality technology and 360-degree videos.

Using VR headsets, participants viewed both Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” painting and a photo-realistic panorama of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, the real-life location depicted in Van Gogh’s famous painting. 

The researchers then recorded and compared the reactions of participants about their experiences of emotions, their mood, and more to see whether nature or art solicited a greater experience of “the sublime.”

To learn more about Dr. Clewis’s research and findings, you can read the full article on The Academic Times website.