Wholeness, Visual Complexity and Materiality: A comparative analysis using fractal dimension analysis and the mirror-of-the-self test in the case of material imitations
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Architecture recently became a subject matter for research in scientific fields such as environmental psychology or neurology thanks to developed tools for measuring neural responses of humans to their environment. The so-called biophilic design promotes creating an environment for psychological and physical wellbeing based on human affinity to natural forms. Researchers such as Nikos Salingaros and Bin Jiang had a significant impact on the research of organized complexity in architecture based on the theory of wholeness by Christopher Alexander. This comparative study attempts to clarify some aspects of the relationship between visual complexity and wholeness by questioning material authenticity. For a quantitative representation of relative visual complexity, a fractal dimension analysis and architectonic life are used. A survey employs the mirror-of-the-self test developed by Christopher Alexander to receive a universally shared judgment on a degree of wholeness (life) of wooden floor sample and its imitations in ceramics and vinyl. Results confirm the assumption that a higher degree of complexity is proportional to a higher degree of life when comparing images. However, when comparing material samples, the majority of respondents agree that more authentic and less processed materials have a higher degree of life than imitations with a higher degree of complexity.
Keywordsvisual complexity, material authenticity, mirror-of-the-self test, biophilic design, structural beauty, architectonic life, wholeness
Document typePeer reviewed
Document versionFinal PDF
SourceNew Design Ideas. 2022, vol. 6, issue 1, p. 5-24.