Methods of Predicting the Development of Art Perspectives.
V.M.Petrov, L.G.Boyagyeva.
Russkyi mir,
Moscow, Russia, 1996. 158p.
ISBN: 5-85810-025-2

This book elaborates upon the of research carried out by V.Petrov (well-known to readers of Leonardo). [1]

The book's authors set the goal of predicting both basic trends in cultural spheres and the directions of evolution of each art form separately. The research method was based upon a theoretical and informatical model. The essence of this model is in the reproduction of information processes inherent to any sufficiently complex self-developing system (both a man and an integral human society provide examples of this). Two kinds of processes exist : the analytical (inherent to the left hemisphere of the brain) which is characterized by the decomposition of the object in view, and the synthetic (inherent to the right hemisphere of the brain) characterized by integrity of perception and by empathy. The regime most appropriate for systemic development is the alternate domination by both of the processes. In terms of the social and psychological "climate" of a society this means that each of the types of consciousness prevails for 40-50 years (due to the fact that mentality changes only along with generations).

Selected indices provide quantitative data on the processes allowing the description of their respective roles in social as well as political "climate" of society and in different forms of art. The research goal is to provide integral estimation of artistic life within a definite period of time, thus serving the creation of a retrospective picture of its evolution. This picture, in its turn, is used for making predictions of styles of mental development for the next decades. To achieve this task the authors have analyzed the creativity of a number of artists in terms of a specific group of parameters.

The characteristics used to provide for concretization of peculiarities manifest in analytic or synthetic cognition in music, painting and theater. The questioning of experts in creativity was the primary method employed. Analysis of their responses revealed that asymmetry highly correlates with creativity. The "Index of the asymmetry of creative process" was introduced to exact a quantitative estimate of the degree of analytic or synthetic process in cognition. A final "index of asymmetry" for each artist was obtained by means of combining answers related to several scales. The following regularity was revealed as a result: periodical alternation of analytic and synthetic types of thought in different forms of art is analogous to and synchronous with the process in social and psychological sphere. This approach provides for the revelation of a main trend in evolutionary process. The authors emphasize that it is not a matter of strict mathematical regulations but only of trends. Such an approach allows the prediction of the major characteristics and the general direction of cultural development, the major components of the development of art forms, and also foresees the main stylistic signs in each art form.

So, it is possible to foresee in the spheres of art and music an optimistic or tragic disposition, detect degrees of rationality or intuition, constraint or freedom of form, the logicality or spontaneity of material development, the uniformity in timbre or presence of half-tones and nuances, the predominance of middle and upper registers or the leading role of the low register. The authors depict a prospective development of music, fine arts and theatre in the near future based upon the analysis of signs of creative thought.

This book is of interest, undoubtedly, for others besides the cultural theoretician. One of the book's valuable features is its practical orientation which provides reference-points for specialists in art: critics, art students and directly for those engaged in artistic practice. The appendices to the book are of great value since they help in familiarizing with the details of the measuring techniques. Characteristics of the creativity of artists, composers and directors as well as others whose "asymmetry indexes" are presented in a tabular format. This provides for extensive factual material for specialists involved in the prediction of development in various art forms.

The authors of the book emphasize that the results obtained are not final and represent only sketches, the bases for further research. The method based upon extrapolation does not reflect today's conceptions of the role of causality in the process of evolution. Therefore results obtained from the implementation of this method provide only background for which separate elements will be present in the picture of the future with different degrees of pronunciation.

It seems to me that an approach providing the promise of more accurate prognosis would be the cultural "superposition" on informational and theoretical model upon other models such as the system of arts developed by B.M.Galeyev which features "creative man" as its center (Leonardo readers have been familiarized with system too)[2]. Another interesting method of analysis was proposed by a Kazan researcher and Professor of Kazan State University, Yu.G.Nigmatullina. This model seeks to reveal the dialectics of the realized and the unrealized potential in literary process. "Superposition" of the method she uses on the methods developed by the authors of herein-reviewed book would render their material more concrete [3].

We would like to emphasize, along with this book's authors, that their approach to the prediction of cultural development could be applied to both culture as a whole and to its separate parts. I would like to attract readers attention to the fact that the informational and theoretical model proposed by the book's authors can be used for the analysis of any segment of culture and that this method could be used in combination with other model of culture to obtain a more three-dimensional picture of cultural development.


  1. Petrov V." Quantitative Estimates of Left and Right - Hemispherical Dominance in Art" Leonardo, v.29, No.3, 1996, pp201-205. "Art and Science Serve Each Other: The Russian Branch of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics."  Leonardo, v.29, No.4, 1995, pp.327-328.
  2. B.Galeyev. "The New Laokoon: A Periodic System of the Arts." Leonardo, v.24, No.4, 1991, pp.453-456.
  3. Nigmatullina Yu. "Complex Researches of Artistical Creativity. Prognosing Problems." Kazan:Kazan University Press,1990. (in Russian)

Svetlana Sintzova

(Published in  "Leonardo Digital Reviews", October, 1997, v.5, N 9)