How Beauty Makes You Have the Feels

“Richard Seymour: How beauty feels” TED Talk Reflection. This is an introduction to how aesthetics and beauty can make the audience feel a certain way and provoke emotion.

This TED Talk discusses the aesthetics behind different art forms such as graphic design, automotive design, and dance, analyzing what draws the audience’s attention and becomes memorable. He goes into detail about how perception is dependent on the individual viewer and that the aesthetics behind a subject matter will have variances. Furthermore, he discusses how the audience can get a feel for emotional connection to certain subject matters especially when they know the process that goes into making the subject “beautiful”.

I found this talk to be very inspiring because he doesn’t just talk about the factors that stand out to the audience in art works and how beautiful they are. He goes in-depth about all the work that goes into these pieces of work. Often times, people do not pay as much attention to the process that was taken to get to the final product. Another thing that I found inspiring about this talk was when he discussed that “beauty” didn’t have to the fit the standards of symmetry or structure. Asymmetry and chaos can actually enhance the beauty of the subject matter especially if the subject matter was in its most natural state.

This talk relates to my big question as it addresses my question (and reflects similar sentiments) in a more general way that can be applied to more than just performing and media arts. It touches on the ideas that I had as possible parts of the answer to my question. How can a soundtrack of a video (music video or film) spur emotions in and grab the attention of the audience? This question branches off from a broader emotion. What is beauty and why does it affect us? Seymour touches upon this explaining that for the viewers, they tend to find the work more beautiful when they understand how much work actually gets put into the subject and when they get emotionally invested in the work (or the artist behind the work). He also redefined the boundaries of beauty, saying that beauty isn’t only found as symmetrical or structured. There’s variety in what beauty actually is.

The speaker caught my attention by using aesthetically pleasing images and asking the audience what their reactions to the images were, what draws their attention. Even though he would show different examples, he kept re-emphasizing his main points while also moving on to other points subtly. In that regard, that was aesthetically pleasing to me. He also provided a lot of examples that people may or may not relate to, using every day subject matters like water, cars, and folding clothes. There was a lot of variety and witty remarks that kept the audience engaged the entire time.

What I would do differently is focus specifically on videos like music videos and analyze different aspects that appeal to audience members such as choreography, tune, attractive people, set design, CG effects, and more. This would more suit towards where I see myself wanting to study as I’m not as well-informed in graphic design and still-life pictures. However, the way in which he presented his subjects and discussed each subject matter was very effective and kept the audience’s engagement.


  • Professor Ashkan Soltani
  • Professor Sandra De La Loza
  • Richard Seymour
  • Eva Zeisel
  • Jordan Hertling
  • Autumn Browne
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