Emotions are one of mankind’s greatest mysteries. It’s a well-known fact that every living being has a certain degree of emotional awareness. Humans, for example, have a much wider range and depth of emotions compared to dogs or cats, at least on the surface. But why do we experience emotions and what triggers them? As is always with psychology, the answer is situational..
Take this image for example. At first glance, the picture exudes a sense of comfort, happiness and calmness. But why do we feel that way? How are we able to relate to birds as though they’re human beings? That can be explained by a branch of psychology known as ‘anthropomorphism’ – the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to animals or objects. In this case, the aforementioned emotions are derived from the familial bonds that the birds are exhibiting. But what if we can’t relate to the subject’s behavior? What if the subject is something that is incapable of emotional expression, such as the cityscape below?
In this photograph of Dubai’s CityWalk, it’s the colors present in the scene that create the emotional impact, not the subject itself. The most prominent colors in the image are red, purple and, to a lesser extent, green. Color psychology – the study of the relationship between colors and emotions – can be used to decipher the impact of such colors on the visual power of the scene. In this case, red symbolizes energy and liveliness, purple signifies extravagance and creativity, and green indicates growth and freshness.
In a scene devoid of color, contrast and composition are key to communicating emotions and stories. Take this picture for example. The intersection and the buildings display Dubai’s rapid growth and expansion – the juxtaposition between the tall, modern skyscrapers and the traditional structures showcasing the contrast between old and new. The interweaving roads are a perfect indicator of the hectic lifestyle in the metropolis. There is no color in the scene, but it packs a lot of detail. Sometimes, all you need to convey emotion is a bit of imagination.
The human mind is an enigma. It can draw conclusions from very little information, it can solve the most difficult problems, it can be your best friend, but, on the other hand, it can also be the cause of your nightmares. It’s freakishly powerful, and yet that power cannot ever be truly harnessed. The mind is a puzzle, and while emotions are only a part of the jigsaw, they might just be the most important piece (and one that we’re still trying to comprehend).