Understanding Beauty in Different Ways

I spend several hours on reading this article, but it’s too long and too hard for me to understand. Though there are more content covered in this paper,I want to talk the first half which I already comprehend well.

The writer want to analyze an ad which a naked beauty posted on New Yorker.  She cited three other writers work and analyzed this ad with their logic.

The first writer is William with his book The Non-Designer’s Design Book. He offers four design principles, contract, repetition, alignment and proximity to explain our feelings about this ad. He explained why does our attention draw by the woman on the ad, even special part of her body by using contrast. The lightest part of this photo is on the woman’s butt, and all other parts are too dark. Also it’s a round shape, and the shape of text block in this ad is also round shape, this repetition creates a sense of harmony.

The second writer is Arnheim, he suggest that we understand the world largely by our bodily experience. For instance, he stress that the force of gravity play a important role. We experience it every day and it can affect us potentially. Because of the gravity, we consider horizontal objects as stable and clam, and vertical shapes are more active, which give viewers a feeling of energy. That explained the pleasure when we see that straightly stand woman. Also we consider pointed shape dangerous than rounded shape, and the shape of the woman’s body is rounded.

The third writer is Bang who think the naked woman imply the image of mothers. We feel comfortable with being together with our mom and this feeling be revoked when we see this ad.

Though Wysocki argued with all of these theories, and her argue is meaningful, I still consider these different ways of understanding this ad are valuable. More understanding with these theories can be very helpful when we want to create something new. We can attract audience attention in many different ways and approach a good result by integrating them.

The example is also an ad. It’s a ad of french fries. A woman holding a cup of french fries standing in the middle. The text is read fries in a faked world. My first idea is that this advertisement use the woman’s unusual sized breast to draw audience attention and they will see the french fries nearby, and then the advertising which suggest the breast is faked and compared it with a real good french fries. Now I can see more, like they set the focus point at the middle of ad, because people prefer look at the middle and consider it as critical. Also the breast is the lightest part contract with the darker parts and shadow of body. There are some secrets hidden under this  advertisement.


My question is the value of people can vary across culture and theory, and we need make change base on it for sure. What value or principle is consistent and what is always changed?



Wysocki pushes for a change in the visual expectations held by society. Specifically, the objectification of bodies, mainly women, was said to be an unnecessary and distracting addition to advertisements in the sense that they take away from the actual text. I would agree, but I would also argue that sex sells and the cover of a magazine is not necessarily meant to be read, but it’s meant to draw the reader in to buy, and then read,the textual content between that cover page and the end. That being said, Wysocki agrees that the obvious point of visualizations is to meet the expectations of the audience, and I liked that she challenges these expectations. Is it possible to change society’s expectations about beauty and the quality of visual compositions? I support Wysocki’s notion that designers should push the horizon to change the viewers expectations, however the actual possibility of this seems slim to me. The media has a lot of control on shaping societal ideals, so without a big push to change these expectations or notions of beauty, and without wide-swept support from major media outlets, how would this be remotely possible? The image I’ve attached with this post is a Playboy cover from 1970… here we can see that society’s expectations have not drastically changed over the last (almost) 50 years. If the objectification of women and the notion that sex sells has continued this long, why would it change now? More over, how can it change now? I don’t think designers could effectively challenge this without the support from major media outlets, because if they tried then their work may not be bought and then they will not have any future work.

Wysocki has high-hopes, and I like the idea of challenging expectations through visualizations, but I just don’t see it being super realistic. In addition, I liked that she pushes her students to find what they believe to be effective compositions before she delivers design principles to them. I think that’s a great way to get students to start noticing design principles before they’re familiar with them,which could in turn make the easier to recognize, apply, and experiment with. I can’t say that I disagree with Wysocki, I just think she’s being a very optimistic teacher where as I consider myself a realist. The set forth design principles work, and experimenting with them is always great, but changing society’s expectations is extremely ambitious.

Blog Post 16 • Wysocki


I find Wysocki’s writing on beauty to be well-parsed and intellectually intriguing.  I’m appreciative of how she gently shapes our understanding of Bang, Anarheim and Kant’s conceptualizations as they inform her arguments. Yet as always, I cannot help but to despair in what I haven’t fully comprehended and engaged with her main points in her treatise. She spends a long time gathering impetus for why she thinks what she thinks, which is all well and good when one is trying to introduce new thinking to a field, but is an approach I find difficult to respond to, when her thesis can be summarized in her own words – that it’s dangerous and dehumanizing to separate form from the meanings inherent in form.

I mean, I agree with that assertion, yet find her discussion of beauty to be inherently tied up in the moral realms of social ethics, and think she spends a long time circumventing and sidestepping that tie. I don’t think she provided other examples of dangerous form/meaning separations outside of the objectification of women’s bodies. I mean, what I did understand was that eventually she does outright say that it outrages her that objectification can be lumped into discussions of aesthetics, purely as aesthetics. I definitely agree that regardless of the men who can look at a naked female body without thinking of its sexual implications, naked female bodies placed in the center of a piece of art operate on a position of assumed centralization in egoic attention (how’s that for wordy academic discussion).


Take this above diagram for example, found from a Google Images search and taken from a fitness industry book by Bret Contreras, which could be sure to make Wysocki angry because it blatantly serves up a model for objectification of a human body part. What’s interesting is that this particular model does not differentiate between male or female rear ends. It simply dictates form that can be achieved through fitness. Undifferentiated from its context, this diagram could seem to be a hallmark of the Nazi-efficiency thinking that Katz’s work presents as so deplorable. However, in context, the diagram regains more humanity by appealing to the social desire to impress and succeed among other people.

Can the CRAP principles be applied to this diagram as well? What makes you care about this discussion and how did the Wysocki reading change your understanding of art, aesthetics and beauty?

Seeing Ourselves

After looking over this reading a couple times, I found myself struggling to be able to summarize this reading in just one phrase or sentence, which is something I usually like to try and do after each reading we have. I ultimately decided that the best way to describe the reading was something like “By using ourselves as subconscious guides, the design principles we use can often reflect the physical properties us as human have.” Wysocki seems to have that same thought process, and I would hope so as her writing is what my phrase was created from. Wysocki stats the reading, and goes pretty long length wise into the reading, talking about a ad found in the New York Times that features a column of text and a column of advertisement on each side. The advertisement on the right of the text turns out to be the focus of the reading and when you see it its no surprise why. The ad features a side view of woman wearing nothing but thigh high boots and are sleeves. Wysocki argues that the contrast of the woman, who seems to be much lighter than the background behind her, and the specific area of her body that is lit up the most (the lower area) are indeed evident of CRAP design principles, but that the values WIlliams uses for describing the ad are not specific and can cause people who are trying to learn about visual design to be misguided.

The idea that teaching the visual aspects of text can be counter intuitive to new students was something Wysocki said that I found interesting. Wysocki says that these approaches can’t account for a lot of what is going on in the advertisement with the woman, because the fact that an actual person is in the design makes the design principles less effective. Wysocki basically says that the fact that and actual body is involved in the ad, the other design elements like the text become backdrops for the ad, when they should be at least on the same level of focus as the image. I think the main point that Wysocki is trying to get across here is that having something we can relate to so much, specifically a person, in combination with text in a manner like this is a very ineffective way to have something visually designed.

It can be hard to design things away from what we know, this car having a design that looks like a face shows how familiar things can be inserted into everyday objects.

What changes could have been made to the ad to create a bigger emphasis on the information, and are these changes worth making when the ad captures so much attention already?


This article does a great job of highlighting the minute details of design that many of us overlook. The main focus of the introduction to the Wysocki article is the Peek advertisement that was presented in a publication of The New Yorker. Wysocki analyzes the advertisement in terms visual design and its affects on the way that we see beauty. Wysocki begins the analysis of the advertisement by relating it to the four principles of design. As viewers, our eye is immediately drawn to the behind of the woman in the advertisement because of the black and white contrast, the proximity of all the elements of the advertisement, the repetition of the size of elements, and the ways in which the elements are oriented within the frame.

But, Wysocki takes the analysis one step further by pulling in Arnheim’s principle. According to Wysocki on page 155, “Arnheim uses our bodily experiences of moving over the earth to shape principles for analyzing and creating visual compositions.” In the second portion of the document Wysocki argues that the way in which we perceive design is influenced by our surroundings. For example, when we see objects at the center of a work of art we perceive the objects as more powerful than those positioned below the horizon line. Objects carry weight depending on where they are positioned in a work of art. Not only is our perception influenced by our surroundings, but it also influenced by our childhood. Certain images bring about memories of our maternal past, and because of this we see them as being very comforting.

Wysocki’s article really hit home. This advertisement can go in two directions. In the one, you could argue that certain design elements make the advertisement and woman appear beautiful because the blurring of the woman’s body and the alterations made make the body look less of a body and more of an objective form. But, therein lies the second direction the advertisement takes: objectivity of the woman’s body itself. This advertisement was uncomfortable for me. When you read the peek advertisement, you quickly learn that the image they chose was quite fitting. However, the advertisement as Wysocki points out, is the perfect example of the objectification of women. When women’s bodies are no longer seen as human and are looked at more as objects this becomes a problem. Seeing women as objects has created the desire to perfect their bodies and free them of any fault rather than to appreciate their true beauty. I would also argue that this same issue can be said not only about objectification of human bodies, but also different cultures and ethnicities. Once you begin to see someone as an object and not as a human, you begin to dehumanize and devalue others.

Do you think there truly is a way to format an image of a woman that doesn’t objectify? And, if perception of images is influenced by our own individual upbringings, how do we begin a global conversation about reversing the issue? 121415-serena-williams-sports-illustrated-cover-e1450106874726.jpg

This is a magazine article that was the basis of discussion in one of my previous courses. I find it very fitting with the conversation of class today. This image shows not only power, but also falls victim to what some would call “the male gaze.”

Why Does Everyone Hate Design Principles?

I was immediately very excited to read this article because in the beginning there is a heavy focus on design principles such as Williams’ four principles from The Non-Designer’s Design Book. I have actually read excerpts from that book in my AP Studio Art class in high school, and the themes Williams focuses on are extremely important when designing something appealing. I became excited because based on our past readings in this class I knew that somehow Wysocky would find a way to dispute these traditional and accepted principles.

And oh boy did she argue. Or rather she agreed with some other people. The argument came in quickly that these four major principles were a product of designers looking to standardize and rationalize their actions in design. And to a certain extent I do agree with this. I don’t want to walk down the street and see twenty posters that all look the same, but I think having standards of good or bad design and letting designers use their own personal touch is what allows design to stay a progressive medium. What I heavily disagree with though is the argument that design is driven by the want or need to be efficient. Maybe in the case that you want your advertisement to efficiently sell your product, but designers are not driven to follow the four main principles of deign to be efficient in their work. The process of design is meticulous and the principles are not exactly simple to follow. If designers were driven only by efficiency then a lot of posters and advertisements would be black text on a white background saying “buy our product, it ‘s better than the competitor”.

In these two advertisements there is a stark difference in old design and modern design. It is clear that in the modern design the four principles are followed more closely than in the older advertisement. There is clear contrast between the bottles and the background with the aid of a lot of negative space being used, the bottles are repeated, they are all aligned the same, and all the elements are close together but spaced enough to feel separate and not crowded.

Wysocky also touches on something that many people don’t consider when thinking about design. Philosophy plays a large part in design because designers are able to create appealing visuals based on concepts and understanding from our everyday lives that give us sensations. We can also draw a sense of duty and reason from design based on these sensations. Then in Kant’s third critique, that of judgement, it is argued that with a sensation of pleasure, it is our judgement that can then join that sensation to the design. Kant’s critiques are a combination of natural concepts and our human decision making process. Kant argues that these two things are not separate and so when we see that “nature and law are harmonized, it is beautiful” (Wysocky, n.d.).

Do you think design will always follow the four main principles we currently follow, or will designers begin to use more and more abstract principles?

Last Reading! Knowing Our Foci

Foci is a geometry term, it is an important element that decide what an eclipse look like, you need a focus to determine a circle’s shape but you would two foci to determine the shape of an eclipse, so I would say that foci is a more powerful term than focus in the field of geometry.

Wysocki indicates that we would focus on where a good design leads us to focus, the design builds one or more foci in order to lead reader to the direction they wanted. such as the sexually lured lady as the cover, which her body shape leads our focus to where it intended and Wysocki points that out with arrows too. There’s a lot of foci that could lead to different views, a company would like to see an intern’s foci to determine their ability and creativity. It reminds me a story. A rich man decided to distribute his property to his sons but he decided that the one who worth most will get most. To state this in another way, he wanted to see their foci when facing a same problem. Then he provide all three sons with 100 dollars and ask them to fill his apartment with anything. First son bought the cheapest that he could think: straw, and he could only fulfill one third of the house because it is a big house. The second son purchased cotton which almost fill the house because cotton is soft and could fill a lot of space. However, when the rich man step in to his third son’s design, he simply saw a candle that wont cost over 5 dollars, the third son explained that he fulfilled the whole house with the light that candle provided.


As the most valuable property lands in the third son’s hand, we should consider our foci. Is it as normal and common as the first son which you simply follow the big wave and act exactly like others, or your foci is smarter that you could find a short cut, an easy way to achievement you achievement like the second son. Maybe you could even think outside of the box and your foci would be astonishing and perfect as the third son. We should know where our foci lands in a scale, and improve our ideas.

What do you think that you could fill that house with, your initial thought would determine your foci level.