Update: The Location of this talk has been changed to room 406 in the Kennedy Building.
The next speaker in our Fall of 2009 series will be Margaret Livingstone. The lecture will take place at MassArt on Thursday, November 12, 2009 and is free and open to the public. Please RSVP for this event (details on how to do that below).
Artists have been doing experiments on vision longer than neurobiologists. Some major works of art have provided insights as to how we see; some of these insights are so fundamental that they can be understood in terms of the underlying neurobiology. For example, artists have long realized that color and luminance can play independent roles in visual perception. Picasso said, “Colors are only symbols. Reality is to be found in luminance alone.” This observation has a parallel in the functional subdivision of our visual systems, where color and luminance are processed by the newer, primate-specific What system, and the older, colorblind, Where (or How) system. Many techniques developed over the centuries by artists can be understood in terms of the parallel organization of our visual systems. I will explore how the segregation of color and luminance processing are the basis for why some Impressionist paintings seem to shimmer, why some op art paintings seem to move, some principles of Matisse’s use of color, and how the Impressionists painted “air”. Central and peripheral vision are distinct, and I will show how the differences in resolution across our visual field make the Mona Lisa’s smile elusive, and produce a dynamic illusion in Pointillist paintings, Chuck Close paintings, and photomosaics. I will explore how artists have intuited important features about how our brains extract relevant information about faces and objects, and I will discuss why learning disabilities may be associated with artistic talent.
Free and and open to the public.
RSVP: Please let us know if you’re planning to attend this event.
Location: MassArt, 621 Huntington Avenue, Boston
Room: Kennedy Building, Room 406
Date: Thursday, November 12, 2009
Time: 6:30 to 8:30 P.M.
Directions: By car | By T | Campus map (PDF)
Parking Information: at the end of this post
Dr. Margaret Livingstone has worked in several different fields of neurobiology and has contributed significantly to them. She has explored the ways in which vision science can understand and inform the world of visual art and is the author of the popular book, Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing, which has brought her acclaim in the art world as a scientist who can communicate with artists and art historians, with mutual benefit. Livingstone generated some important insights into the field, including a simple explanation for the elusive quality of the Mona Lisa’s smile (it is more visible to peripheral vision than to central vision) and the fact that Rembrandt, like a surprisingly large number of famous artists, was likely to have been stereoblind. As a scientist, She is best known for her work on visual processing. In collaboration with David Hubel she did groundbreaking work on the parallel processing of visual information. In 1984 they described a new subdivision in primate primary visual cortex involved in processing information about color, and described the anatomy and physiology of this previously unknown system. Livingstone went on to apply objective, quantitative mapping techniques to primary and extrastriate visual areas, revealing fundamental computational strategies used by the visual system in processing information. Her work has led to a deeper understanding of how we see color, motion, and depth, and how these processes are involved in generating percepts of objects as distinct from their background. She earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University in Neurobiology and is currently Professor of Neurobiology at the Harvard Medical School and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems at Boston University.
Parking and Driving Directions
Parking will be available to attendees who drive in the Ward Street lot if you enter the lot between 5:45pm and 6:45pm. If you’re driving, take a close look at a Google Map of the area, finding the Ward Street Lot can be tricky the first time.
If you’re traveling west on Huntington Avenue from Downtown, as you pass the main campus on your right, take a left at the light at the Longwood Avenue intersection, crossing over the trolley tracks. Go straight to the stop sign and turn left, then immediately turn right onto Ward Street. MassArt’s parking lot is short distance ahead on the left.
If you’re traveling east on Huntington Avenue from Bringham Circle, take a right at the light at the Longwood Avenue intersection, then a quick left at the stop sign and right on Ward Street. MassArt’s parking lot is short distance ahead on the left.
The gate should be open for this event. If it’s not, ring the emergency button on the guard house and security will answer. Tell them you’re here for Media Tech Tonic, they should have it on their list of events for this evening.