4.606
Visual Perception and Art

Visual perception from neurological, cultural, and artistic vantage points. Students examine aspects of visual culture ranging from body adornment to public spaces, and from logotypes to moving images. Lectures, oral presentations, field trips, and written essays develop tools of visual analysis and interpretation. Topics range from ritual space to forensics to machine-aided vision (cameras, radar devices, robotic scanners).

This subject will investigate the form and function of the human visual system and the cultural and historical products that are uniquely engaged with it. It will explore, in parallel, the art, science, and culture of how we see. We will examine the nature of the physical stimulus to which the human visual system is responsive and the physiological mechanisms that capture such stimuli to trigger perception; in parallel, we will explore how such processes drive the practice of art at different times and in different cultures. Different modes of engaging course material will be employed, including experimental investigations of your own visual system, guided analysis of historical art and cultural objects, exercises in making art, field trips, examinations of common and uncommon illusions, and inquiries into machine vision. The interdisciplinary nature of the course will require an advanced level of student participation, commitment, and self-directed learning culminating in a final project of your own design.