Similarity of gaze patterns across physical and virtual versions of an installation artwork

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An experiment was conducted to compare museum visitors’ gaze patterns using mobile eye-trackers, whilst they were engaging with a physical and a virtual reality (VR) installation of Piet Mondrian’s Neo-plasticist room design. Visitors’ eye movements produced approximately 25,000 fixations and were analysed using linear mixed-effects models. Absolute and area-normalized dwell time analyses yielded mostly non-significant main effects of the environment, indicating similarity of visual exploration patterns between physical and VR settings. One major difference observed was the decrease of average fixation duration in VR, where visitors tended to more rapidly switch focus in this environment with shorter bursts of attentional focus. The experiment demonstrated the ability to compare gaze data between physical and virtual environments as a proxy to measure the similarity of aesthetic experience. Similarity of viewing patterns along with questionnaire results suggested that virtual galleries can be treated as ecologically valid environments that are parallel to physical art galleries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number18913
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2021

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