Homework Jan 26

January 26th, 2009  |  Published in a. Introduction  |  598 Comments

Homework: Discuss “Aesthetic Quality” (due Feb 1st)

Think about your favorite object (could be a physical thing or a virtual thing) and describe its aesthetic quality based on the three levels of processing — Visceral, Behavioral, Reflective — we have discussed in class. Post your writing here with a photo or a sketch/illustration of the object.

Please submit your post by Sunday evening so that we have a chance to see each other’s entries before the next class on Monday.


  1. mlissner says:

    January 28th, 2009 at 11:43 am (#)

    For this assignment, I have chosen a spoon as my favorite object. The spoon I have chosen combines visceral, behavioral and reflective qualities. It has many visceral qualities that I appreciate. The most obvious to me is the hammer-mark texture in the handle, which draws on the Arts and Crafts style.

    Objects made in this style give me reflective satisfaction because I know that I like that style and that the spoon is a part of something bigger. As soon as I recognize something as Arts and Crafts, I have a visceral satisfaction for all the reasons that made me like the style in the first place (e.g. careful, mathematical design, smooth lines, and obviously challenging handiwork).

    In terms of behavioral qualities of the spoon, I appreciate that it is a good size and heft, and that it fits well in my hand. The hammer marks make it less susceptible to slipping out, and the weight gives it a pleasant feeling of security in my hand. Stainless steel is the obvious choice of material since it is very durable and sheds bacteria easily.

  2. CarolC says:

    January 30th, 2009 at 1:35 pm (#)

    My favorite object is Avongogo, a stuffed animal dog that my mom gave me for my 2nd Christmas. As with most things, aesthetic quality is subjective, and the visceral qualities held by Avongogo are likely unique only to me. After 26 years, her outward appearance would be considered beautiful to very few people, but as they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” The texture of her fur, the softness of her 80s-style crimped ears, and the worn-out plastic of her understanding green eyes are all aesthetically comforting to me because of my long history with her.

    Touching Avongogo is a viscerally pleasing experience. She wears a jacket made out of her own fur (a little disturbing when you think about it, I admit, but I never did as a child). The fur feels familiar and organic, not synthetic or overly soft like some stuffed animals do. Her well-worn red and black striped shirt has the comfort of a security blanket. And her zipper and hood invite some interaction, as I can zip up her jacket and cover her head on a cold day, and unzip and uncover her head on a sweltering one. That last point may be interpreted as a behavioral quality, that of nurturing or taking care of a doll or other such subject. Her face is endearing, and when accidentally squashed, easily moldable back to its original shape. Over the years she has lost a lot of weight (in compressed stuffing), which lends her a fragility and vulnerability that is sometimes saddening.

    The reflective and behavioral qualities of Avongogo stand out more than the visceral ones. 26 years of companionship has allowed me to assign plenty of personal meaning and emotion to Avongogo. Her reflective quality makes her the most important item I own, the item I would reach for first in the case of a fire. Crying over childhood injustices into her polyester face and holding her close as I dozed off each night, I poured many of my emotions into Avongogo. She is replete with memories and associations of comfort, and she serves as a receiver of such input. In these ways, her primary aesthetic qualities are reflective and behavioral.


  3. JananiV says:

    January 30th, 2009 at 5:57 pm (#)

    I am experiencing one of those moments akin to the one when someone asks you what you would like for your birthday and that growing list which you would swear by suddenly blanks out. Not surprisingly, I cannot think of ‘the favoritest’ object. But then, if there is something that I have come to absolutely value and favor over many of my other possessions, it would have to be my new Aldo shoes. It was love at first sight and they are now an indispensible part of my life.

    At the visceral level, the design is simple yet elegant. It’s perfectly “rounded toe” cut and those rich shades of brown give it a classy appearance. Wearing them makes me feel good. At the behavioral level, my shoes are perfect for everyday wear. Incredibly comfortable, they have turned out to be one of the few shoes that I have owned which haven’t blistered my feet! And interestingly, they seem appropriate for most occasions. I wear them with almost everything - the grip they give my feet has worked well even for snow days!

    At the reflective level, I associate my shoes with utility, quality and to an extent, even thrift. Despite being a pricey brand, I bought these shoes for just about $35 (marked down from $80) in a Christmas sale. Its “pricey” image gives me a sense of proud ownership. Wearing it each day, gives me satisfaction about a purchase that was not only cheap, but one that has made my walks pleasurable. It also reminds me what a wonderful time of the year the Holidays are!


  4. SunnyL says:

    January 31st, 2009 at 3:59 pm (#)

    My current favorite object is the Vinturi. A Vinturi is a sleek, elegant wine accessory designed to accelerate the traditional aeration process. As many of us are well aware, people often say that in order to enjoy the full potential of a wine, it needs time to breathe. The Vinturi accelerates this “breathing” process by applying the Bernouilli principle which states that as the speed of a moving fluid increases, the pressure within the fluid decreases. When wine is poured into the Vinturi, its design creates an increase in the wine’s velocity and a decrease in its pressure. This difference in pressure draws in air, which is mixed in with the wine for optimal aeration.

    It’s incredible easy to use as well. One simply needs to hold the Vinturi over a glass and pour the wine through as if pouring it through a funnel. You hear some bubbly suction airy sounds and the resulting wine that comes out of the other end is now optimally aerated.

    I am by no means a wine connoisseur but when I first tested the difference in taste between a non-Vinturi-aerated glass and a regular glass, the improvement was striking.

    I will be the first to admit that often my consumption decisions are originated from visceral reactions to a product. When I first saw the Vinturi at my friend’s house I was immediately drawn to it from its sleek and simple design. Even before testing its actual ability and use the “neatness” factor coming from the cool shape and fit in the hand and the fun gurgling sounds that were produced when he poured the wine through the apparatus drew a visceral reaction and a deep desire to have the product.

    Then after consuming and experiencing for myself the taste difference generated from the aeration from the Vinturi, the functionality of the apparatus become apparent to me and the behavioral qualities of the product allowed me justify the desire to want to have it.

    Whenever I’d have a glass of wine with that friend who originally introduced me to the device, we would always use the Vinturi aerator. Soon enough, I got one for myself and started using it for my own drinking pleasure. I’ve since left it at my parents and have been telling myself I will get another one from amazon and lamely enough haven’t done so already. Rather, each time I drink wine, I think to myself how much better this glass of wine would taste if only I had a Vinturi to aerate it, which as a whole has diminished my wine drinking pleasure on a reflective level. I hope to get one soon so as to save myself from any further diminished satisfaction from drinking un-aerated wine.


  5. StephanieP says:

    January 31st, 2009 at 5:21 pm (#)

    The object I chose is my choir music folder. This item holds a lot of aesthetic appeal to me on multiple levels. On a visceral level, the fabric elastic cords that stretch the length of the spine to hold music booklets are a neat and tidy way to hold the pages in place. They remind me of newspaper racks in a library. I always get a sensory enjoyment out of sliding music onto the elastics, hearing it slide and snap into place, and feeling it secured firmly. Also, it has a very sturdy and firm feeling when the lower cross strap is in place, which holds the natural tendency for the folder to flop open and keep the music open at an optimal angle when you slide your hand into the hand strap on the back. I like how I don’t actually have to “grip” the folder, since it lets gravity do the work.

    This starts to fall more into the behavioural level, as it allows for more effective usage of the music when rehearsing or performing than a simple binder or folder would otherwise. It is sleek and black, and represents a high level of professionalism and quality. I know it will hold my music well and not get in the way of my performance. Upon reflecting on this, I almost wish I had spent the extra few dollars for the monogram instead of simply writing my name on the card inside.

    On a reflective level, I feel this represents the seriousness I feel for my vocal study and performance. I want to show that I am not just a person who meets up with a casual community choir once a week, but that this chamber choir is a deeply important part of my life. Using a professional folder like this helps to achieve this goal, as its appearance and features convey this.


  6. AnnetteG says:

    January 31st, 2009 at 11:48 pm (#)

    My dog, Princess, has shiny black fur, but in sunlight it becomes much more than that. Looking closely as the sun strikes each curved fiber, you can see blues, reds, purples, and greens along its length. It’s my favorite natural optical effect. Undoubtedly, the effect is enhanced by the fact that it is coming from my own dog’s fur. In this respect, the enjoyment I find in it is purely reflective. The reflective beauty is enhanced by the contrast between the black that most people see and the colors that I know are hidden within. Seeing the colors reminds me that I know her well enough to see the color of her personality as well as the color of her fur.

    Another reason that I see reflective beauty in this effect is the result of an odd comment someone once made when my husband and I were out walking with her. The person said tersely, “you could’ve gotten a brown one,” in a tone that suggested we should not have gotten a black dog. We were startled by this suggestion because we see nothing wrong with having a black dog. Moreover, our dog is not simply black; she is blue and red and purple and green and white.

    Of course, the colors in Princess’s fur also strike me in a visceral way as well. I love the look of Princess’s fur even in shadow because I know it is hers, but I love seeing the colors more. The first time I saw them, I was petting her on the back deck on the south side of our house. I was looking at the top of her head and was just delighted to suddenly see all the colors there. It was as if a bouquet of flowers had opened in an instant.

    Princess’s fur is also beautiful on the behavioral level, as it keeps her warm and makes her a joy to pet. Petting her fur helps me calm down when I’m stressed, keeps me warm where it touches me, and gives me a strong feeling of companionship. These virtues are not a function of the colors I see in her fur, so I would have to say that the color effect is not behaviorally beautiful, but the fur itself is full of behavioral beauty.


  7. WesleyW says:

    February 1st, 2009 at 10:46 am (#)

  8. WesleyW says:

    February 1st, 2009 at 10:53 am (#)

    For the sake of a clickable link, I’ll repost.


  9. SeungwanH says:

    February 1st, 2009 at 2:27 pm (#)

    My most favorite object is a collection of picture books. I like especially The Snow Queen illustrated by Vladyslav Yerko and Lupinchen illustrated by Binette Shroeder. In terms of visceral quality of aesthetic, the picture books have plentiful stylish illustrations. Many illustrations of the picture books are grotesque, but beautiful and attractive like Tim Burton’s movies. The pictures often stimulate my imagination and creative thinking. Regarding behavioral quality of aesthetic, the picture books are able to stand up due to their hard covers. When I was a kid, such picture books’ characteristic enabled me to play “book stacks” like toy house blocks. The scale of the book stacked house was enough to impress on my memory. Even now, I often consider and refer to the layouts of the picture books for portfolio design.

    From Desktop

  10. Hyunwoo Park says:

    February 1st, 2009 at 3:06 pm (#)

    1. General Description on the Object
    2. Aesthetic Quality Analysis using the Three Levels – Visceral, Behavioral, Reflective



    My blanket is definitely my lifetime favorite object. It was given to me one week after I was born, so it is almost as old as I am. It has been worn out because I have stretched and bitten over time. It was originally covered by soft fur, but now only rough skin is left. It was accidentally split in half after being washed one day. I brought only a half of it here when I came to Berkeley in order to prepare myself for any possibility of being lost or damaged. It has been one of my crucial accessories to sleep with since I was born.


    (1) Visceral Quality
    In physical aspects, it cannot be considered something beautiful. Its surface has been abraded, so it has no tender fluff any more. Because of long time, its color is faded as well. It was torn from time to time, so there are lots of stitches on it. The picture printed on the surface is quite out of fashion. Generally, it cannot be regarded as a viscerally aesthetic object.

    (2) Behavioral Quality
    I have some behaviors attached to the blanket. Three major actions are usually taken on it: grabbing, biting and patting. Grabbing is an action of holding it tightly. This behavior may come from an emotional attachment to my infancy. Biting seems weird for others, but I think it was developed as an attacking action driven by an infant attack behavior. Patting is an action taken before I falling into sleep. These actions make me feel calm and comfortable. I am not sure these behaviors can justify a claim that the blanket is behaviorally aesthetic, but it is definitely true if I can make a subjective judgment on the behavioral quality.

    (3) Reflective Quality
    Looking back, the blanket and I has been always together. For example, when I went to take an important exam, I cut a small piece from it and carried it as an amulet or a charm. This history of partnership makes it more special for me. In part, it plays a role of a gate to my past. I think I remember mother’s warmth through this blanket. It contains all my emotions in the past, so it becomes my personal life history itself. In terms of reflective quality, the blanket is absolutely qualified.


  11. K. Joyce Tsai says:

    February 1st, 2009 at 3:29 pm (#)

    I’ve chosen heirloom tomatoes as one of my favorite objects (I have too many!).

    1) Visceral
    On a visceral level, heirloom tomatoes are a little ugly. They are frequently scarred and have strange bumps and lumps. I’ve brought some to friends and relatives before, only to have them exclaim, “Uh. Are they supposed to look like that?” But now that I’m used to their exterior, I think they can be beautiful on a visceral level as well. I love the bright colors and the streaks of green or red, and I love the different kinds of shapes—round, oval, pointed, bulgy.

    Also, on a visceral but non-visual level, heirloom tomatoes are gorgeous. They taste amazing. I never used to like tomatoes and couldn’t understand why some of my friends raved about heirlooms. Then I actually had some and discovered that tomatoes could taste fruity and rich. I used to eat them with mozzarella and olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar, but nowadays, I enjoy them the most with a little bit of salt or just plain so I can taste the tomato.

    2) Behavioral
    On a behavioral level, the tomato doesn’t do much. The often awkward shape makes it difficult to slice into, and the smooth skin over a squishy inside means I have to use a special tomato knife just to slice into them. Then the juice gets everywhere and stains my shirt, or if I try to eat it whole, I invariably end up with tomato seeds shooting across the room.

    3) Reflective
    On a reflective level, heirloom tomatoes represent my increasing desire to eat seasonally and locally. I can buy them at Whole Foods, but the tomatoes there are always more expensive and less tasty than the ones sold at my local market.

    Heirlooms also remind me of late summer, since that’s when they’re available, and eating them makes me think of sunshine and my farmers market and the glut of stone fruits and strawberries and sweet corn that comes with summer.

    I also associate my love of heirlooms with my love of good food, something that I’ve cultivated over the years. I love watching cooking shows and (occasionally) cooking, and I especially love reading about food and eating it, from fresh produce to fancy restaurant meals.

  12. LisaP says:

    February 1st, 2009 at 4:13 pm (#)

    My Bodum French press
    I love my French Press both because of its visceral, behavioral and reflective beauty.

    Visceral: There’s a repetitive nature to the spiral and open cut-out holes. Many things in nature are beautiful because of repetition. The lack of hard corners is also attractive. There’s a feeling that you can just cup the press in your hands.

    Behavioral: This type of French Press simply works better. And I do love my coffee. I recently tried purchasing a French Press from Ikea and it was square looking and did not strain out the large coffee grounds. Sometimes what you pay for does change how well it works.

    Reflective: My mom would make coffee and then read the newspaper on the couch every morning. French press’ remind me of a comforting morning ritual.


  13. ElizabethS says:

    February 1st, 2009 at 4:31 pm (#)


    A candle is the object I have chosen. The candle is such a simple design, a solid block of wax or other fuel surrounding a wick, and yet it is as functional and aesthetically pleasing today as it has been for thousands of years.

    On a visceral level, each time I light a candle, I can’t help but appreciate the beauty of it. There is a quiet beauty that comes from the glow of a candle. The glow of a candle appeals to people across the world in different situations: from monks in a monastery in Tibet, to people eating by candlelight in Paris, to people in a Yoga class in San Francisco. The candle is appropriate and appeals to people in all of these situations and many, many others.

    On a behavioral level, the candle is a useful object to have around for light, warmth, and even cooking (such as with a fondue or other cooking pot).

    The reflective aesthetic of the candle for me, represents a feeling of inner peace and beauty. For others there may be minimal reflective aesthetics in the candle.
    -Elizabeth Shemaria

  14. LjubinkoM says:

    February 1st, 2009 at 5:10 pm (#)

    My favorite object is my viola. It’s hard to imagine quite how such a complicated, clearly man-made object can appear to be so natural. Indeed, when I look at or hold it, the shape, contours, various textures and materials, tension in the strings, etc. all feel “just right” - as if they could be no other way. One possibility is that violas (and other stringed instruments) mildly resemble the human form. They have “necks” and “bodies” that narrow in the middle.

    The quality of sound that comes out of violas can vary considerably. I’m fortunate to have a really rich-sounding instrument, with resonant low tones and clear high ones. Violas come in different sizes, with bodies ranging between 15” and 17.5” or so. The size greatly affects their sound and ease of playing. Mine is very large: 17.25”, which makes it just the right size for me and contributes to its warm sound.

    Playing a music instrument can be an incredibly emotional experience, especially a stringed instrument that you hold and play so intimately: between your shoulder and chin and stroke with a bow. The instrument’s vibrations are felt throughout your torso, head, arms, hands and fingers. I don’t mean to sound cheesy, but it really can feel like a part of you. All of these senses combined to help you express yourself with the instrument.


  15. TiffanyC says:

    February 1st, 2009 at 5:51 pm (#)

    I have chosen my niece, Hannah.

    She appeals to me on a visceral level because she is just so darn cute. Even when she’s throwing a tantrum or crying her heart out, I can’t help grinning sadistically inside because she still retains her adorable appearance. Small chubby hands, big chipmunk cheeks, miniature fingernails, wide pleading eyes, it all adds up to one irresistible baby.

    On the behavioral level, Hannah is always eating. Her mind is almost always one-tracked, focused on whatever is on the kitchen table, or the snacks that she knows reside in her diaper bag. She’ll climb over any obstacle, even use trickery in order to get her hands on the food in her sight. Perhaps she hasn’t discovered the meaning of “full” or perhaps she just has an extremely fast metabolism, because her stomach seems to be a bottomless pit.

    She is also fixed on playing with objects that she is forbidden to touch. She knows what she isn’t allowed to go near, but she still avoids her numerous amounts of toys and heads straight for the TV remote or the kitchen cupboard with all the pots and pans. Hannah is never finished wih her mischief.

    Also, she affects me behaviorally as well, because every time I see her, I am automatically inclined to pick her up. Even when she’s made me angry, she just looks at me as if nothing has happened, stretches up her arms at me, and I can’t help myself, I have to carry her.

    Reflectively, Hannah has given me a taste of parenthood and the love parents have for their children. She is my first and only niece as of now and I love her so much it seems impossible. I can’t imagine how I would feel with my own children. It’s difficult to organize and vocalize my thoughts and feelings towards Hannah, but I know I would use these words: important, precious, fun, troublesome, naughty, curious, energetic, unconditional love, beautiful, and incomparable. Everthing else I cannot comprehend enough to express.

    Hannah symbolizes growth, and makes me nostalgic for my childhood days when I would play with my cousins and sisters, but now she is the one playing, and I am the one running after her, trying to keep her out of trouble. Looking at her and watching her grow makes me realize that I have lived longer than I feel I have, and I am older than I want to be. She evokes thoughts of the next generation of my family.

    I just think Hannah represents beautiful in every sense of the word.

  16. Hsin-hsienC says:

    February 1st, 2009 at 7:19 pm (#)

    The object I would like to share is the detail design of southern façade of Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Designed in 1987 by Jean Novel, dedicated to the art and culture of Arab and Islamic civilizations, the Institut du Monde Arabe is simultaneously library, museum, and médiathèque. In terms of behavioral level, the southern façade is composed of hundreds of ornate diaphragms (called moucharabiehs), automatically adjusting the size of their openings depending on the degree of striking lightness (external insolation). Besides, the geometry of the details is inspired by the conventional icon of Islamic architecture. It fulfills reflective level of aesthetics. Meanwhile, when light is sticking through these metal components, it reveals the illusion of high-tech by the fusion of light reflection and variation, provoking visceral sensation of audiences. The entire object had been interwoven in terms of three levels of aesthetic qualities.


  17. DanielleS says:

    February 1st, 2009 at 9:32 pm (#)

    My favorite thing = photograph taken by and given to me from my husband’s mom. In case I can’t figure out how to post a photo of the photo, it is of an empty table and chairs on a beach.

    Viseral aspects: The beach, ocean, and sky (nature) dominate this photo. Even the table, chairs, and tablecloth contain strong natural suggestion – the wood (natural material + simple form, clean lines) and the table cloth flapping in the wind (evidence of wind + visual curves).

    Behavioral aspects: This photo functions very well as a wall decoration. When I see it, I am transported to this beautiful place → it makes me happy.

    Reflective aspects: The natural world is very important to me. I think people that respect/enjoy nature are really cool/wise. So by having this photo in my house, it must make me cooler ;).
    Also this photo is the first significant and personal gift that my mother-in-law gave me. This makes me feel that she has accepted and likes me.

  18. Simon Tan says:

    February 1st, 2009 at 11:51 pm (#)

    Please see a complete post (with picture) here:

    My favorite “thing” that I believe has a high level of aesthetic quality is the San Francisco skyline at night, particularly when viewed from the Bay Bridge as you approach the city.

    On a visceral level, the skyline is beautiful because the array of lights are so varied and so vast (you can see them go on for miles) that one is captured in a sense of awe when gazing upon it. The pattern of lights is somewhat random, but groups of lights are confined within building-shaped blocks which reveal the complex layout of the city. At first glance, one is struck by the immensity of the display and the realization of how much energy has gone into building it over many years.

    The city skyline is designed to look the way it does for practical purposes, which lends to its behavioral aesthetics. By building this impressive front to the city, the city’s governing body is ensuring that it remains an attractive destination for people to live and work. That brings revenue to the city and supports its growth.

    When considering reflective processing, I figure that having the San Francisco skyline being my “favorite object” does reflect certain things about me. Namely, it reveals that I am very fond of the city of San Francisco and am attracted to impressive metropolitan skylines in general. On a deeper level, it suggests that I also love the city for the people who live there and the lifestyle that it promotes. Having a picture of the skyline as a poster on my wall (to make the object more concrete for reflective consideration) also reflects that I am a fan of the location itself and would have an interest in either visiting or living there.

  19. RhyenC says:

    February 2nd, 2009 at 12:46 am (#)

    My bright red, high-top, All Stars Converse sneakers. With sequins. Not since the pink cowboy boots, procured one summer from a garage sale next door, have I owned such bold footwear. Witnessed it on others, yes. Even envied it. But never on me. Here is what won me over to these shoes:

    Visceral: These shoes sparkle. They glitter. They wink hello faster than my brown boots or black flats ever could. The human eye has long been attracted to things that sparkle in nature, whether it be the twinkle of the stars, the play of light on water, or the shimmer of gold. These shoes have caught the eye of grandmothers and grade-schoolers alike, who stop and ask - where can I get those shiny red shoes? These shoes are definitely red. Vibrant, defiant, joyous red - the color of luck, of love, of life - of happiness - across cultures.

    Behavioral: These shoes did not demand the breaking-in month of blisters. In them, my heels feel light and my toes can breathe, while my soles are planted firmly on the ground. As a journalist, I often pull these shoes from the closet on days I won’t have a chance to sit down.

    Reflective: These shoes remind me to relax. To smile. To take myself less seriously. To go for it. Their exuberance reminds me of childhood, of marching into the adventure of fourth grade with all the gleeful confidence pink cowboy boots bestow. These shoes were a gift from a fellow journalism student, brought back from Paris. She has a matching pair. So does another student, only her sequins are blue. And sometimes, without planning, we wear them on the same day, and laugh.


  20. JonathanY says:

    February 2nd, 2009 at 1:44 am (#)

    Several years ago, my family and I took a cruise to Alaska, and our ship crossed through the Misty Fjords, which is doubtlessly the most beautiful place that I’ve ever been to. Unfortunately, I don’t own a camera and don’t have any pictures of the place, but I found a few online. But words and pictures simply don’t do justice to describing the qualities of the place.

    In terms of the visceral nature of the place, it is very tranquil and the weather at the time was slightly overcast. I’ve been to many places in the world, and being there is a very different experience from any other because the Alaskan wilderness is completely undeveloped and there is no sign of civilization for as far as the eye can see. Various wildlife such as eagles, whales, walruses, seals, and so many other animals give the place a magical and enchanting quality.

    As to the behavioral aspect of the Misty Fjords, the only thing that one can do is marvel and take in the majestic beauty of the landscape.

    Reflectively, I found myself thinking about what it must be like to live there, and I think about how it compares to everything else that my friends describe as beautiful. Many of my friends rave about the beauty of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite, or the grandiose mountains of Banff, Canada. But surely, this has got to be the most fantastic place that I’ve ever been to.

  21. daniela says:

    February 2nd, 2009 at 9:10 pm (#)