Thursday, October 24, 2019, 6 PM

Miles C. Horton Jr. Gallery


Anthony Cate, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Psychology

The same visual processes that allow us to make sense of real-world scenes can still function even when images are stripped down to a bare minimum.  For example, we can perceive moving bodies in patterns of moving dots, even if we have never seen a body depicted that way before. If the stripping down is done right, such images can reveal to us the pure but unfamiliar format of the visual patterns that our eyes are good at detecting. 

The visual system is organized so that the most informative patterns—the ones that we rely on to decide the meaning of a scene—are very abstract and unlikely ever to be seen in isolation. This abstraction is adaptive: relying on abstract patterns makes it possible for us to analyze scenes we have never viewed before by finding the same abstract patterns in them that we know from previous scenes. The abstraction of the patterns forms a bridge between our past and future visual experiences.

Jim Campbell's work in DATAFORM draws on these principles for laying images bare, weaves them beautifully to create patterns that seem at once familiar and strange and which help us to understand the essence of all of our visual experiences.

This talk will last approximately 30 minutes.