Like most (if not all) of the second-years here, this is not my first time reading this commentary, having first approached it in Foundations. With that in mind, I felt I was able to read this critique with a different mindset, and focus more on the deconstruction of Tractinsky’s argument presented here, rather than trying to draw my own immediate conclusions (as we read both papers back-to-back last year). One thing that hasn’t changed is my appreciation for the bulleted outline of Tractinsky’s argument, and Jeff’s primary critique of those points. So I attempted to dive into the weaknesses of the aesthetic processing theory section, and found four key critiques:

“…the aesthetic processing model differs in important ways from our common experience of aesthetic: as I have argument, it is too steeped in information processing theory to fit with an ordinary person’s experience.” (PDF, p8)

“…the aesthetic processing model is also comparatively weak at ethical and socio-cultural considerations.” (PDF, p8)

“…[a] lack of medium specificity in Tractinky’s account…the aesthetic processing model, by virtue of being a processing model, is fundamentally about the cognitive…and thus has less to say about the visual artifact itself, except inasmuch as it is perceived and rendered available to consciousness.” (PDF, p9)

“aesthetic processing theory struggles to deal with the notion of skilled or expert interpretation, e.g., the idea that a critic or a designer has a more robust or better understanding than a layperson—a claim that both critics and designers make, justifiably in my view, because such an understanding is the foundation of their professions and what they are trained for. ” (PDF, p9)

The problem of approaching aesthetics in HCI stems from the fact that there are so many different ways to frame the discussion of the term itself: as an academic, as a layperson, as a practitioner; from a visual, experiential, or processing model, among many others. The value I find in this commentary is not only the depth that Jeff goes to critique the aesthetic processing model, but he “accept[s] the legitimacy of aesthetic processing but [also] to end its self-imposed exile from the rest of aesthetics.” (PDF, p11) The recognition that all sides can benefit from each other’s perspective in my mind is what drives the discourse forward, and opens new opportunities to explore what aesthetics means to HCI. What I’m hoping to get out of the class today is to explore the topic of interaction quality, and what comparisons could potentially be drawn between the different aesthetic epistemologies on how quality is determined.

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