[visionlist] [jobs] 3 Postdoc positions "Visual factors underlying aesthetic image preferences"

Johan Wagemans johan.wagemans at kuleuven.be
Sat Aug 6 09:18:39 -04 2022

3 Postdoc positions "Visual factors underlying aesthetic image preferences"
Three postdoctoral positions are available to work on the GRAPPA project, funded by an ERC Advanced Grant, recently awarded to Johan Wagemans at KU Leuven (Belgium). The GRAPPA project (acronym for "Gestalts Relate Aesthetic Preferences to Perceptual Analysis") aims to develop and test a model to predict, explain and understand aesthetic preferences for natural images and pictures of artworks on the basis of mid-level vision factors. The central working hypothesis is that these factors (e.g., figure-ground segmentation, symmetry, composition, colour harmony, perceptual ambiguity) provide a bridge between supposedly universal principles of low-level perceptual analysis based on image statistics and high-level style and content preferences that may vary between different cultural groups and individuals ("the eye of the beholder"). The GRAPPA project will combine large-scale online testing of aesthetic preferences for images and psychophysical experiments on specific perceptual organization principles with gradually more sophisticated modelling based on machine learning and computer vision. The validation stage will go beyond mere preference and beyond images to include more general measures of aesthetic appreciation, mobile eye-tracking studies in museums, and collaborations with contemporary artists. For more information on the project, see https://www.kuleuven.be/english/research/EU/p/he/p1/erc/GRAPPA.
The three postdocs we are recruiting now will work on the following topics, with specific required expertise: Postdoc 1 with background in human vision and experience in sophisticated analyses and statistical modelling of behavioral data for research of how perceptual organization determines aesthetic appreciation; Postdoc 2 with background in computer vision and/or machine learning for the core task of model development and testing; Postdoc 3 with background in psychology and art for the projects in collaboration with museums and artists (incl. qualitative research methods).
Eligible candidates have research experience and a PhD in a relevant area, preferably demonstrated with first-author peer-reviewed publications in the domain of interest. For Positions 1 and 2, a computational and quantitative background is important, including good programming skills (e.g. Python, Matlab, DNNs) and advanced statistical knowledge (e.g., hierarchical Bayesian regression models). For Position 3, a strong affinity with art history as well as visual perception is required, preferably combined with experience in empirical research on aesthetics and/or visual art in collaboration with museums and/or artists. Further assets are experience with interdisciplinary research, a creative mind, good problem solving skills, international and interdisciplinary mobility, and a collaborative, open-minded, and collegial attitude.
We currently have funding for up to three years for each of these positions, starting with a one-year contract. We have a good track record helping postdocs to obtain their own personal prestigious fellowships afterwards, allowing them to extend their stay and broaden the range of research questions. The net amount of the salary will be competitive and in accordance with the university fellowship scales for postdoctoral researchers. The position is research-only, without teaching obligations, but teaching opportunities can be arranged if wanted. KU Leuven is one of the best European universities according to international rankings (#41 world-wide in the 2021 THE ranking). KU Leuven has expertise in all relevant areas of research for these positions, and relevant co-supervision from neighboring disciplines (e.g., artificial intelligence, computer vision, art history) can easily be arranged. Our research group belongs to the department of Brain & Cognition, located in the centre of Leuven, a vibrant university town which is only a 25-minute commute from the center of Brussels and its international airport.
Interested candidates should email johan.wagemans at kuleuven.be<mailto:johan.wagemans at kuleuven.be> as soon as possible, with (1) a motivation letter indicating for which of these 3 positions they apply, (2) an extended CV including skills, relevant experience, and a list of their publications, as well as (3) two names and email addresses of colleagues who have worked closely with the candidate. Relevant candidates will be contacted to apply formally through the KU Leuven recruitment system. Candidates who will participate in the Visual Science of Art Conference (VSAC<https://vsac2022.tudelft.nl/>) in Amsterdam (August 24-27) and/or the European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP<https://2022.ecvp.eu/>) in Nijmegen (August 28 - September 1) should try to meet Johan Wagemans there. There is no formal deadline yet but the positions will be filled as soon as possible.
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