Universiteit Leiden

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Seeing in three dimensions. Learning from Michelangelo’s mistake.

  • Sir Colin Blakemore
Tuesday 7 November 2017
LUMC Education Building
Hippocratespad 21
2333 ZD Leiden
Buruma Room
Sir Colin Blakemore
Sir Colin Blakemore

Sir Colin Blakemore, president of the World Cultural Council (WCC), is a professor of Neuroscience & Philosophy at the School of Advanced Study and the University of London and Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford.

We see the world in three dimensions, despite the fact that the image in our eye is essentially two-dimensional. Animals with forward-pointing eyes have the luxury of stereoscopic vision – the ability to interpret the relative distances of features in the world from the tiny differences between the images in the two eyes. But if you close one eye, you can still perceive distance on the basis of information in the single image. Figurative painting depends completely on the viewer’s ability to infer depth from such monocular cues, especially perspective, despite the fact that the surface of a painting is actually flat. Sir Colin Blakemore shall discuss the possible brain mechanisms for interpreting perspective, whether and how monocular cues are integrated with stereoscopic vision, and the implications of this not only for figurative art but also for architecture. And he shall offer an explanation for one of the puzzles in the history of architecture – why Michelangelo apparently made a mistake in the design of Rome’s most famous piazza.

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