«Examining Cultural Drifts in Artworks through History and Development: Cultural Comparisons between Japanese and Western Landscape Paintings and ...»
Culture and Development. Along the reasoning of Tomasello (1999) and Vygotsky’s (1978) theoretical frameworks, cultural psychologists recently have investigated developmental processes which lead children to acquire culturally dominant knowledge, and answer the questions of how and when these differences emerge in their developmental trajectory. Generally,
elementary school (Duffy, Toriyama, Itakura & Kitayama, 2009; Imada, Carlson & Itakura, 2012; Kuwabara & Smith, 2012; Kuwabara, Son & Smith, 2011), and through interaction with their children, caregivers convey culturally important messages, which may be the bases of culturally specific patterns of attention (Fernald & Morikawa, 1993; Senzaki, Masuda, Takada, & Okada, 2014). Research on culture and aesthetics in a developmental context has also demonstrated that aesthetic expressions are systematically different across cultures (Gernhardt, Rübeling, & Keller, 2013; Ishii, Miyamoto, Rule, & Toriyama, 2013; Rübeling, Keller, Yovsi, Lenk, Schwarzer, & Kühne, 2011). In line with these findings, Senzaki and colleagues (2014) examined cultural variations in landscape artworks produced by primary school children in Japan and Canada, and demonstrated that once children understood the concept of a horizon (age 8 for both cultures), Japanese children drew the horizon higher in both studies and integrated more objects in their collages than did Canadian, the pattern of which is consistent with that of young adult data (Masuda et al., 2008).
Objectives and Hypotheses The historical and ontogenetic research on culture and aesthetics provide us evidence that cultural variations in aesthetic expressions are substantial. However, these studies entail some critical drawbacks. First, in Masuda et al.’s (2008) historical analyses, the data was grouped together, therefore not considering whether cultural patterns of perception remained consistent throughout all time periods and historical circumstances. In addition, they failed to include masterpieces in a very important historical period. Japan did not engage in the importation or exportation of goods with different countries and was essentially closed from the early 17th century until the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, 1868 (Pollack, 2008; Rimer, 2012).
political, military, technology, and education systems, but also in the arts in order to “modernize” the country. Therefore, there is a possibility that Japanese artistic expressions shift towards that of Westerners during this period. This change created a ricochet in the West as well. After the Meiji Restoration, Japanese artworks strongly influenced Western arts. Under the name of Japonisme, for example, European artists, especially those who were in France, incorporated the flat and two-dimensional artistic styles of the Japanese into their artworks (Ives, 1974).
Impressionists were also strongly influenced by traditional Japanese artwork (Sullivan, 1989;
Walker, 2008), which led them to radically create new types of expressions, denying traditional linear-perspectives. In light of historical events in the late 19th century, more comprehensive historical analyses are needed to examine whether cultural changes in psyche occur in the course of history in Japanese and Western arts. In sum, examining data from an extensive time period, such as centuries, is essential in order to account for economic, politic and sociodemographic changes and its potential impact on psychological tendencies (Rice & Steele, 2004).
Second, in Senzaki et al.’s (2014) ontogenetic analyses, the target populations were elementary school children and undergraduate students, missing the data of adolescents.
Adolescence is a transitional stage from childhood to adulthood and individual identity development becomes the central developmental task, which involves experimentation and establishing the self as independent from caregivers (Erikson, 1968; Kroger, 2007). Furthermore, in some cognitive domains adolescents have been found to be instigators of dramatic change, such as in language, through modification and having larger peer groups to transmit and reinforce the changes made (Kerswill, 1996). As a result, adolescent patterns of behavior may
To address these issues, we conducted two studies, one from an historical perspective, and one from an ontogenetic perspective. In Study 1, we examined whether culturally unique patterns of perception in artwork remained consistent throughout history or are subject to change through cultural exchange during the late 19th century, by comparing overall trends of the location of horizon in Japanese and Western landscape artwork from the 17th century through 20th century. In Study 2, we examined perceptual patterns in cultural products throughout development in order to determine whether cultural drifts occur during adolescence. Specifically, we investigated perceptual styles in how adolescents and adults in Japan and Canada created landscapes using both drawing (Study 2a) and collage (Study 2b) mediums. Within these artworks, we focused on horizon height, the number of objects, and the area covered by the objects in order to determine context-inclusiveness.
Because of the nature of exploratory investigation, potential changes in aesthetic expression will be treated as a result of cultural drift. The concept of cultural drift has been used in anthropology as a form of cultural change similar to evolution (Eggan, 1963; Herskovits, 1941; 1948), resulting from institutional, political and social change. In the current research, cultural drift will refer to gradual deviations from culturally-specific psychological tendencies throughout history based on modifications and improvements in artifacts and tools made by each generation. These drifts may occur as a result of cultural exchange, finding new trends within another culture’s aesthetic products and integrating the new knowledge into existing cultural frameworks. We examined historical and ontogenetic trends in artistic expressions by contrasting two competing hypotheses: the “Resilience to Change” hypothesis vs. the “Cultural Drift” hypothesis. The “Resilience to Change” hypothesis maintains that cultural changes would not be
“Cultural Drift” hypothesis maintains that there are substantial cultural changes observed after 19th century (Study 1) and during adolescent periods (Study 2). We also discussed whether the changes, if any, stabilize or continue to drift.
In order to investigate the process of cultural drift, Study 1 examined Japanese and Western historical landscape masterpieces from the 17th to 20th centuries using similar methodology as Masuda et al. (2008). We especially attempted to identify changes in trends while dividing masterpieces based on the period of production and taking into account the initial influence of the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, and subsequently in the early and later 20th century.
Method Materials: 17th to 20th century Japanese landscape art pieces (n=619) from Japanese and Western art museum online databases and art books, and European landscape art pieces (n=761) from Western art museum online databases and art books, were compiled and examined (see Appendix A). Given that our target of analysis was to determine whether cultural drifts occurred following the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, and the limitability of Japanese landscape art in the 17th century, we grouped 17th and 18th century data by every one-hundred years (1600n = 242; 1700-1799, n = 232) and the 19th and 20th century data by every fifty years (1800n = 190; 1850-1899, n = 233; 1900-1949, n = 297; 1950-1999, n = 186).1 Results Similar to Masuda et al. (2008), horizon height in the landscape art pieces was the target of analysis. Two research assistants blind to the hypothesis (Coders 1 and 2) and the primary
by the first author (see Appendix B). Coder 1 coded 2/3 the European art and Coder 2 coded all of the Japanese masterpieces and 1/3 of the European masterpieces. To ensure that the developed guideline would also apply to historical landscape art created by established artists, the primary investigator (Coder 3) coded all of the art pieces for both cultures. The interrater agreement for the horizon height was 85% for the Japanese masterpieces (Coders 1 and 3). For European masterpieces, it was 97% for Coders 1 and 3, and 98% for Coders 2 and 3.
A 2 (Culture: Japanese Arts vs. Western Arts) x 6 (Time Period: 1600-1699, 1700-1799, 1800-1849, 1850-1899, 1900-1949, and 1950-1999) ANOVA was applied to the horizon height ratio of the historical landscape art. There was a significant main effect of culture, F(1, 1368) = 179.05, p.001, ηp2 =.116 as Japanese historical landscape artwork had higher horizons (M = 62.55, SD = 17.58) than that of European landscapes (M = 48.46, SD = 17.64). There was also a main effect of time period, F(5, 1368) = 26.57, p.001, ηp2 =.089; however, this pattern was qualified by an interaction between culture and time period, F(5, 1368) = 15.88, p.001, ηp2 =.055. The simple effect analyses revealed that there were significant cultural variations between 1600-1699, t(1368) = 7.66, p.001, between 1700-1799, t(1368) = 10.89, p.001, between 1800-1849, t(1368) = 6.11, p.001, between 1850-1899, t(1368) = 3.04, p.01. During 1900in contrast, there were no cultural differences, t 1, ns. 2 Cultural variations, however, emerged again between 1950-1999, t(1368) = 3.29, p.001. In addition, the location of horizon in Japanese artwork during 1850-1899 was marginally lower compared to the period of 1600t(1368) = 1.74,.05 p.10, and significantly lower compared to the period of 1700t(1368) = 4.88, p.001, the period of 1800-1849, t(1368) = 2.71, p.01, the period of 1900-1949, t(1368) = 3.36, p.001, and the period of 1950-1999, t(1368) = 6.35, p.001,
location of horizon in Western masterpieces historically continued to show gradual increase as evident that the horizon height of the period of 1700-1799 was higher than that of the period of 1600-1699, t(1368) = 2.00, p.05, and that of the period of 1900-1949 was higher than that of the period of 1850-1899, t(1368) = 5.82, p.001 (Figure 1).
Discussion Replicating Masuda et al.’s study (2008), Study 1 demonstrated that, overall, the location of horizon in masterpieces produced by Japanese artists were higher than that of Western artists.
However, supporting the “cultural drift” hypothesis, there were substantial changes in artists’ expressions especially after the late 19th century. Horizons in Japanese masterpiece landscapes were significantly lower from 1850-99 in comparison to earlier time periods but began increasing again from the 1900s. We interpreted that this pattern was observed due to the change in policy before and after Meiji Restoration in 1868. As aforementioned, during this period, the Japanese government endorsed Western systems to modernize society.
In particular, the government established the Technical Art School (Kobu Bijutsu Gakkou) in 1876, where “Yōga” [Western Art] courses were taught by European artists, and young and future-renowned Japanese artists learned to draw Western-style landscape images (Yamanashi, 2012). However, soon after, aesthetic nationalists such as Fernollosa (Yamanashi, 2012) and Okakura Tenshin (Clark, 2012), emphasized the rediscovery and maintenance of tradition Japanese art, which was perceived to become eventually lost through Westernization (e.g.
Barber, 1995; Rimer, 2012; Sam-Sang, 2011). In contrast, the data for European horizon location did not demonstrate this kind of vacillation. One reason for this difference may be that Japanese were forced to learn and adopt Western painting styles as part of governmental policy during the
(Sullivan, 1989). Although the location of horizon is just one parameter of artistic expressions, the results clearly depicted the curvilinear vs. linear trends of cultural drift on top of robust cultural differences.