This article reports on a recent study that examines the effect of white space on perception of Chinese paintings. The authors investigate whether white space in Chinese paintings is not simply a blank background space but rather meaningful for aesthetic perception. Applying a computational saliency model to analyze the influence of white space on viewers’ visual information processing, the authors conducted an eye-tracking experiment. As a case study, they analyzed paintings by a well-known artist, Wu Guanzhong, and collected users’ subjective aesthetic ratings. Their results show that white space is not just a silent background: It is intentionally designed to convey certain information and has a significant effect on viewers’ aesthetic experience.

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