Art and Perception Syllabus (Winter 2007)
Title: Art and Perception (ARTH202, Stanford Continuing Studies)
Instructor: Bob Dougherty (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Office Hours: Wed. 4-5pm in 474 Jordan Hall and by appointment
Class Meets: Wed 7:00 - 8:50 pm, Jan 10 - Feb 7
Location: Cummings Art, Room AR4
Description: Beauty is in the eye (and brain) of the beholder. In this course, we will explore the interaction between perception and art, with a particular focus on the visual arts. We will learn about basic aspects of human visual perception such as color, depth and motion and investigate how these are often exploited by artists for aesthetic effect. We will also study how art is often used to inspire and inform the science of human vision. Specific topics will include: color perception and pigments, the use of perspective in Renaissance art, the visual illusions of Op Art, and the role of symmetry in both art and perception.
Class Format: About 75 minutes of lecture followed by a 30 minute discussion period. Several students will volunteer to lead parts of the discussion.
Grades: Each student will have the opportunity to lead at least one discussion topic. Everyone requesting a grade is required to lead a discussion and will also turn in a final paper on a topic that has been approved by the instructor. Grades will be based equally on the discussion-lead and the final paper.
Suggested extracurricular activity: Visit the San Jose Museum of Art special exhibits Op Art Revisited and M.C. Escher: Rhythm of Illusion. Both run from Sunday, January 28 through Sunday, April 22, 2007. (See http://www.sjmusart.org/.)
Tentative Class Schedule:
Jan 10: An Introduction to Visual Perception
I'll provide a brief overview for the course and a discussion of specific topics that the class would like to be sure to cover. I'll then provide an introduction to human visual perception. This will (hopefully) be a self-contained lecture- there are no readings.
Wikipedia entry on recovered vision
My slides from the first lecture
Jan 17: Color and Light
We'll learn about the nature of light, the perception of color and the material properties that give visual artists such an expressive medium. This is a big topic, and may spill over into the next session.
The Riley chapter in Lamb & Bourriau
Webexhibits Color in Art
Webexhibits History of Pigments
Webexhibits Causes of Color
Webexhibits Feast of the Gods
Some images from the history of color atlases, compiled by Hans Irtel
Color solid/sphere (shows hue, brightness, saturation)
My slides from the color lecture
Jan 24: Perspective and Depth
We'll discuss the basis of depth perception and the emergence of perspective cues to depth in art. We'll also discuss the debate over the use of optical 'tricks' to achieve photo-realistic perspective in early Renaissance art.
Readings: Summary of the Hockney-Falco thesis and the Stork et. al. refutations: Stork, Scientific American 2004.
Michael Kubovy, The Psychology of Perspective and Renissance Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986
My slides from the Perspective lecture
Jan 31: Beauty, Symmetry and the Human Face
This week we'll attempt to answer the following questions: What is beauty? Why is an 'average' face considered attractive? Why do we like symmetry? Why is it so easy to see a face in a random pattern?
Renaissance beauty (Haughton)
Human face perception (Kanwisher)
And you may want to skim a review on the perception of facial beauty (Rhodes)
My slides from the Faces and Beauty lecture
Feb 7: The Art of Illusion
We'll discuss the explorations of human perception by artists (Op-Art- including pieces at the SJMA exhibits, light sculpture, motion illusions, etc.)