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CLS 94 — Vision Science: Perception, Cognition, and Art

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus (About Formats)
Duration: 5 weeks
Date(s): Jul 25—Aug 22
Time: 6:45—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jul 27
Unit: 1
Tuition: $345
Instructor(s): David G. Stork
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
6:45—8:50 pm (PT)
Jul 25—Aug 22
5 weeks
Refund Date
Jul 27
1 Unit
David G. Stork
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Our experience and understanding of fine art depend fundamentally upon the workings of our eyes and brain, including our perception of lightness, color, form, transparency, and depth, as well as higher functions such as the perception of composition, faces, and emotions. Such processing is the first stage when we infer meaning from what we see in artwork. Many leading artists create works that explore, expand, and test our visual intelligence in surprising ways, all in service to their aesthetic goals. Their artwork reveals in novel ways how we make sense of the visual world; vision science sheds new light on their artistic achievements. For example, in 19th-century Paris, people noticed the colors of Gobelins tapestry threads appeared different when seen alone. This discovery—that colors are perceived differently in different contexts—led to an understanding of a phenomenon called simultaneous contrast. In his Codex Urbinas, Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches revealed the geometric principles of light and shade, showing how the illumination of an object depends on the angle at which light falls on that object—a phenomenon used in computer algorithms today.

Both science and art will be presented visually throughout the class, as we examine works by Seurat, Albers, Riley, Turrell, Monet, Velázquez, Magritte, Diebenkorn, Katz, Picasso, van Gogh, da Vinci, Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Caravaggio.

Independent Scholar

David G. Stork has held faculty positions in physics, mathematics, electrical engineering, computer science, statistics, neuroscience, psychology, and art and art history at Wellesley, Swarthmore, Clark University, Boston University, Stanford, and the Technical University of Vienna. He received a PhD in physics from the University of Maryland.