Perspectives: In Conversation with Eva Specker


Zeit Contemporary Art presents Perspectives, a new podcast on art and its ideas. In each episode Samuel Shapiro assembles the voices of thinkers, artists and philosophers who approach art and its role in contemporary society from unique points of view.

In this first episode, Samuel Shapiro sits with Dr. Eva Specker, a prominent psychologist at the University of Vienna. As a researcher in the department of cognition, emotion, and methods in psychology, a member of the Empirical Visual Aesthetics Lab, and an editor of the journal, psychology of aesthetics, creativity, and the arts, Eva dedicates her scientific career to questions that might at first seem to belong more to the realm of art history. She investigates how emotion is communicated through works of art, how we experience awe, how environmental context changes the way we look at art, and even how curatorial narratives shape perception. Accordingly, her research takes place in scientific laboratories and art museums, alike. She’s conducted fieldwork in the Albertina and Belvedere Museums in Vienna, the Queens Museum in New York, and at the Venice Biennale.

Uniquely positioned between the fields of psychology and art history, Eva is deeply invested in the question of what happens when we look at a work of art and she is willing to challenge many of the fundamental assumptions that those of us in the field of art history tend to take for granted. In this conversation they discuss experience and emotion, objectifying the subjective, data-driven curating, authenticity and reproduction, and how our current state of lockdown might impact our emotional relationship to art.