In Visual Science and Visual Art

In Visual Art and Visual Science: 2D to Immersive Study

Presented on Feb 18 2017 for a Composed Session at the College Art Association Conference 2017 "Big Data and Broken Algorithms"

Is it possible to examine Visual Art and Vision Science; their paradigm shifts, frameworks and hypotheses, as autonomous yet analogous?  Beginning where vision is most explicit, minimal paintings can be paired with the discovery of simple cells (Hubel and Wiesel 1959). Moving forward in time, David Marr’s computational framework of vision can be presented in consort with conceptual image/text art of the 1960’s; Fluxus and "The Theory of Affordances” (1977) were both influential in their respective fields for shifting focus from the observed object to the intended action of the observer; and political body performances from the 90’s are explicative of recent research on visual stereotypes. Contemporary trends in vision science involve the inclusion of social science and gestalt research while, in the arts, social practice and immersive projects are also in trend. Throughout this paper, specific artworks and peer reviewed science papers are cited for their inter-relevant subject matter: information processing and illusion, eye saccades and composition, manipulation of attention via motivation and reward, the politics of gaze, mirror neurons and empathy, and the social evolutionary functions of vision. In conclusion, the paper reiterates, that the intent of such a smorgasbord is to discover translatable vernaculars between the distinct disciplines of vision science and visual art. The paper further asks if looking at art through this lens causes a reevaluation of its merit; and if so, how does this affect our valuations of scholarship?

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the AICAD 2015 Symposium.