Edward Bullough was born in Thun, Psychical distance (Bullough capitalises the. ‘Psychical Distance’ as a Factor in Art and an Aesthetic Principle: aesthetics: The aesthetic experience: position is Edward Bullough’s “’Psychical Distance’ as. , , et passim. 6 Edward Bullough, ‘Psychical Distance’ as a Factor in Art and an Aesthetic Principle,”. The British Journal of Psychology, V (June.

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But it is safe to infer that, in art practice, explicit references to organic affections, to the material existence of the body, especially to sexual matters, lie normally below the Distance-limit, and can be touched upon by Art only with special precautions.

No reference has been located in the Cambridge University Reporter. This contrast, often emerging with startling suddenness, is like a momentary switching on of some new current, or the passing ray of a brighter light, illuminating the outlook upon perhaps the most ordinary and familiar objects – an impression which we experience sometimes in instants of direct extremity, when our practical interest snaps like a wire from sheer over-tension, and we watch the consummation of some impending catastrophe with the marvelling unconcern of a mere spectator.

Its peculiarity lies in that the personal character distaance the relation has been, so to speak, filtered. Herein especially lies the advantage of Distance compared with such terms as ‘objectivity’ and ‘detachment.

‘Psychical Distance’ as a Factor in Art and an Aesthetic Principle

In giving preference therefore to the term ‘impersonal’ to describe the relation between the spectator and a work of Art, it is to be noticed that it is not impersonal in the sense in which we speak of the ‘impersonal’ character of Science, for instance. It is one of the contentions of this essay that such opposites find their synthesis in the more fundamental conception of Distance.

Cambridge University Press,8—9. Perhaps the most obvious suggestion is that of actual spatial distance, i.

Edward Bullough

In their interplay they afford one of the most extensive explanations for varieties of aesthetic experience, since loss psychicwl distance, whether due to the one or the other, means loss of aesthetic appreciation. In the practice, therefore, of the average person, a limit does exist which marks the minimum at which his appreciation can psydhical itself in the aesthetic field, and this average minimum lies considerably higher than the Distance-limit of the artist.

Retrieved from ” https: Temporal distance, remoteness from us in point of time, though often a cause of misconceptions, has been declared to be a factor of considerable weight in our appreciation. Less obvious, more metaphorical, is the meaning of temporal distance. The aesthetic contemplation and the aesthetic outlook have often been described as ‘objective. There are two ways of losing distance: This difference in the Distance-limit between artists and the public has been the source of much misunderstanding and injustice.


Psychical distance Bullough capitalises the words is that which, in certain situations, “appears to lie between our own self and its affections, using the latter term in its broadest sense as anything which affects our being”. What is therefore, both in appreciation and production, most desirable is the utmost decrease of Distance without its disappearance.

He will prove artistically most effective in the formulation of an intensely personal experience, but he can formulate it artistically only on condition of a detachment from the experience qua personal.

The discussion questions, bibliographic references, and hyperlinks have been added by Julie Van Camp.

And here one may remark that not only do persons differ from each other in their habitual dostance of distance, but that the same individual differs in his ability to maintain it in the face of different objects and of different arts. It was not included in dishance original publication. The lectures are first announced, to begin on 14 Octoberin the Cambridge University Reporter 37, no.

In Bullough resigned his university post, [27] wishing to concentrate instead on Italian. At the same time, such a principle of concordance requires a qualification, which leads at once to the antinomy of distance. Hence the statement of so many artists that artistic formulation was to them a kind of catharsis, a means of ridding themselves of feelings and ideas the acuteness of lsychical they felt almost as a kind of obsession.

“Psychical Distance” (Edward Bullough)

He did experimental work on the perception of coloursand in his theoretical work introduced the concept of psychical distance: Apart from the physical annoyance and remoter forms of discomfort such as delays, it is apt to produce feelings of peculiar anxiety, fears of invisible dangers, strains of watching and listening psychiical distant and unlocalised signals.

The variability of Distance in respect to Art, disregarding for the moment the subjective complication, appears both as a general feature in Art, and in the differences between the special arts. The first was noticed already by Aristotle in his Poetics ; the second has played a great part in the history of painting in the form of perspective; the distinction between these two kinds of distance assumes special importance theoretically in the differentiation between sculpture in psycuical round, and relief-sculpture.

Rouse Ball and J. In a similar manner temporal remoteness produces Distance, and objects removed from us in point of time are ipso facto distanced to an extent which was impossible for their contemporaries. Bowes and Bowes,xii. It will be readily dixtance that a work of Art has the more chance of appealing to us the better it finds us prepared for its particular kind of appeal.


This general connotation is ‘Psychical Distance. It was a convention at the time that articles in the Caian were signed with initials only. In this most general sense, Distance is a factor in all Art. In short, Distance may be said to be variable both according to the distancing power of the individual, and according to the character of the object. Art has with equal vigour been declared alternately ‘idealistic’ and ‘realistic,’ ‘sensual’ and ‘spiritual,’ ‘individualistic’ and ‘typical.

If this be taken as a typical case, it follows that the qualification required is that the coincidence should be as complete as is compatible with maintaining Distance.

Edward Bullough – Wikipedia

It is practically impossible to fix this average limit, in the absence of data, and on account of the wide fluctuations from person to person to which this limit is subject. This article is in the public domain, as the copyright has expired. The working of Distance is, accordingly, not simple, but highly complex. We are not ordinarily aware of those aspects of things which do not touch us immediately and practically, nor are we generally conscious of impressions apart from our bulloufh self which is impressed.

Such works have consequently profited greatly by lapse of time and have psychicwl the level of art only with the help of temporal distance, while others, on the contrary, often for bulolugh same reason have suffered a loss of distance, through over -distancing.

Again, it marks one of the most important steps in the process of artistic creation and serves as a distinguishing feature of what is common so loosely described as the ‘artistic temperament. Theoreticall y there is no limit to the decrease of Distance. In the First World WarBullough was recruited as a civilian in the summer of to the Admiralty ‘s cryptoanalysis section, Room It is, for this very reason, also an aesthetic principle.

This difference, so well known as to be almost trivial, is generally explained by reference to the psychixal that the characters and situations are ‘unreal,’ imaginary. Wilkinson, introduction to Aestheticsxii. But it does not mean that the relation between the self and the object is broken to the extent of becoming ‘impersonal.