Sunday, March 15, 2009
Thesis posts #11-15
Thesis Post #15: Your eye is not a camera. Part 1 of ∞
originally posted 11/2/08
If you are not convinced vision isn't always veridical (coinciding with reality),
I will have lots of visual illusions soon to change your mind.
I've been a little caught up in research (sans visuals) lately.
So now I am looking for lots of illustrations to help get back to inspiring the visual basis of all this.
They can be more than a little headache-inducing at times though, so I don't want to post tons at a time.
Here's one to get the ball rolling...
(This is a still image. Any perceived motion is an illusion.)
One of the most important concepts I want to stress is that our perceptions are internal constructions of hypothesized external realities!!!
(I put the 2nd half in italics because it is quoted from my notes for my Visual Perception class last semester.
It may have been a direct quote from my teacher, Adrien Mack, or it may just be me summarizing her lecture.)
Thesis Post #14: Surrealism.
originally posted 10/26/08
This past week in my class, Dreams, Desire & the Unconscious, we studied the interconnections between surrealist art and psychoanalytic theory. Our primary subjects of discussion were a film written by Salvador Dalí entitled, Un chien andalou, and Matthew Barney's Cremaster 3: The Order. Below is the full Dalí film in 2 parts and an excerpt from Barney's film.
Un chien andalou
Director: Luis Buñuel
Writers: Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel
Cremaster 3: The Order
Director: Matthew Barney
Writer: Matthew Barney
Thesis Post #13: Visual Perception + Neuroscience x4
originally posted 10/26/08
The Neural Correlates of Desire
by Hideaki Kawabata and Semir Zeki
In an event-related fMRI study, we scanned eighteen normal human subjects while they viewed three categories of pictures (events, objects and persons) which they classified according to desirability (desirable, indifferent or undesirable). Each category produced activity in a distinct part of the visual brain, thus reflecting its functional specialization. We used conjunction analysis to learn whether there is a brain area which is always active when a desirable picture is viewed, regardless of the category to which it belongs. The conjunction analysis of the contrast desirable > undesirable revealed activity in the superior orbito-frontal cortex. This activity bore a positive linear relationship to the declared level of desirability. The conjunction analysis of desirable > indifferent revealed activity in the mid-cingulate cortex and in the anterior cingulate cortex. In the former, activity was greater for desirable and undesirable stimuli than for stimuli classed as indifferent. Other conjunction analyses produced no significant effects. These results show that categorizing any stimulus according to its desirability activates three different brain areas: the superior orbito-frontal, the mid-cingulate, and the anterior cingulate cortices.
The Encoding of Temporally Irregular and Regular Visual Patterns in the Human Brain
by Semir Zeki, Oliver J. Hulme, Barrie Roulston, Michael Atiyah
In the work reported here, we set out to study the neural systems that detect predictable temporal patterns and departures from them. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to locate activity in the brains of subjects when they viewed temporally regular and irregular patterns produced by letters, numbers, colors and luminance. Activity induced by irregular sequences was located within dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, including an area that was responsive to irregular patterns regardless of the type of visual stimuli producing them. Conversely, temporally regular arrangements resulted in activity in the right frontal lobe (medial frontal gyrus), in the left orbito-frontal cortex and in the left pallidum. The results show that there is an abstractive system in the brain for detecting temporal irregularity, regardless of the source producing it.
Seeing without Seeing? Degraded Conscious Vision in a Blindsight Patient
by Morten Overgaard, Katrin Fehl, Kim Mouridsen, Bo Bergholt, Axel Cleeremans
Blindsight patients, whose primary visual cortex is lesioned, exhibit preserved ability to discriminate visual stimuli presented in their “blind” field, yet report no visual awareness hereof. Blindsight is generally studied in experimental investigations of single patients, as very few patients have been given this “diagnosis”. In our single case study of patient GR, we ask whether blindsight is best described as unconscious vision, or rather as conscious, yet severely degraded vision. In experiment 1 and 2, we successfully replicate the typical findings of previous studies on blindsight. The third experiment, however, suggests that GR's ability to discriminate amongst visual stimuli does not reflect unconscious vision, but rather degraded, yet conscious vision. As our finding results from using a method for obtaining subjective reports that has not previously used in blindsight studies (but validated in studies of healthy subjects and other patients with brain injury), our results call for a reconsideration of blindsight, and, arguably also of many previous studies of unconscious perception in healthy subject
The Golden Beauty: Brain Response to Classical and Renaissance Sculptures
by Cinzia Di Dio, Emiliano Macaluso, Giacomo Rizzolatti
Is there an objective, biological basis for the experience of beauty in art? Or is aesthetic experience entirely subjective? Using fMRI technique, we addressed this question by presenting viewers, naïve to art criticism, with images of masterpieces of Classical and Renaissance sculpture. Employing proportion as the independent variable, we produced two sets of stimuli: one composed of images of original sculptures; the other of a modified version of the same images. The stimuli were presented in three conditions: observation, aesthetic judgment, and proportion judgment. In the observation condition, the viewers were required to observe the images with the same mind-set as if they were in a museum. In the other two conditions they were required to give an aesthetic or proportion judgment on the same images. Two types of analyses were carried out: one which contrasted brain response to the canonical and the modified sculptures, and one which contrasted beautiful vs. ugly sculptures as judged by each volunteer. The most striking result was that the observation of original sculptures, relative to the modified ones, produced activation of the right insula as well as of some lateral and medial cortical areas (lateral occipital gyrus, precuneus and prefrontal areas). The activation of the insula was particularly strong during the observation condition. Most interestingly, when volunteers were required to give an overt aesthetic judgment, the images judged as beautiful selectively activated the right amygdala, relative to those judged as ugly. We conclude that, in observers naïve to art criticism, the sense of beauty is mediated by two non-mutually exclusive processes: one based on a joint activation of sets of cortical neurons, triggered by parameters intrinsic to the stimuli, and the insula (objective beauty); the other based on the activation of the amygdala, driven by one's own emotional experiences (subjective beauty).
Thesis Post #12: Don't say I didn't warn you.
originally posted 10/18/08
I scanned most of my long-hand notes so far.
If you are really bored and want to look at all 47 pages, click here to see a pdf.
As I said, these are my notes. I do not always indicate whether something is a quotation or summarization, they are informally structured for my personal use. The only reason I even scanned them is to send them to my teachers to show my progress. And if anyone else finds them at all beneficial, the more the merrier.
They may take a bit to load, there are 47 scans after all.
Thesis Post #11: Thesis ideas...
originally posted 10/17/08
Thesis Idea #1.
Create a series of information design pieces or a book detailing the relations between past and current research in the field of visual perception and art, and how that research can be applied towards creating more effective graphic design. Areas of interest to include may consist of improving composition, visual organization, color theory, typographic readability, etc. Also include research into visual information processing with an emphasis on how a better understanding of it may improve areas such as information design, wayfinding, and environmental graphics. In addition to using purely psychological theories to support these suggestions, include clinical trial results, and neurological findings, all presented visually as well as verbally. Also introduce ideas of complexity, entropy, and physics of information and how they may be applied in creating the most effective balance of aesthetics and communication in graphic design of any form.
Primary concentration will be on applying many of Rudolf Arnheim’s theories of art and visual perception to graphic design instead of the areas he primarily concentrated on: fine art, sculpture, and film. Then, expanding on his theories by incorporating research from other prominent experts in the fields of psychology, physics, neurology, neuroesthetics, design, and art theory. To fill in gaps where clinical evidence of different concepts actually benefiting design is scarce, independent visual experiments may be set up to test the accuracy of the different proposals presented.
While verbal explanations of most of the information presented will be necessary to fully provide the preferred depth of information, the primary mode of communicating these concepts will be visual. Most past and current information regarding visual perception is consistently presented verbally, and as a result alienates itself from the very phenomena being discussed. I aim to integrate the use of visuals with verbal explanations in a much more cohesive manner that has been directly informed by the very information it is presenting.
Thesis Idea #2.
Exhibition design on the topic of visual perception and art. This hypothetical exhibit would be designed for display at either a science, natural history, or modern art museum. The purpose of the exhibit would be to educate people of the general public, as well as individuals with a deeper interest into the links between psychology and the arts. Information will concentrate mainly on theories explored by the top three most influential experts in the field: Rudolf Arnheim, V.S. Ramachandran, and Semir Zeki. Their approaches and contributions have had profound effects on the field of art and visual perception, and the understanding of the fundamental ways in which we perceive the world around us. Contents within the exhibition may include historical timelines, interactive elements, master artworks, other physical specimens, etc. Topics in consideration to be covered include the following (areas overlap and not in specific order):
1. visual perception & cognition
2. information processing
3. visual thinking
4. creativity and cognitive processing
5. altered or enhanced visual perception
6. creative personality
7. the creative impulse
8. entropy and physics of information
9. order and disorder, complexity
10. art history and visual organization
11. organizational theory and composition
12. aesthetic perception and philosophy
14. other misc.
Visitors of the exhibition should leave with an enlightened view of the way they and others perceive the world visually, and how that influences visual communication through art from both the side of the creator and observer.
I will write all of the contents of the exhibit, as well as design information, environmental, and exhibition graphics to enhance the experience and absorption of the material presented. The layout of the exhibit as well as the physical and interactive elements of it will be created in the form of a small-scale model, and necessary parts may be presented and built to scale.
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