Margaret Livingstone spoke at NYU on the subject of “What Art Can Tell Us About the Brain” on Tuesday, and I filled this page before she even got to the Q&A. I’d been curious to see her speak because of my interest in perception and how she relates it to art, and the talk was very spirited. She explained different aspects of perception with a series of optical illusions, including her insights on the Mona Lisa’s smile which I’d seen and found fascinating.
A couple of the biggest takeaways from this were:
- our visual processing “normalizes” the visual information we get, and artists know + play with this, which explains why a painting of a scene will regularly be different from a photograph of a similar scene.
- many visual processing quirks stem from the fact that there are two processing streams when parsing an image, and one is colorblind (the older system). This explains the “shimmery” effect we get from colors that have color contrast but no luminance contrast, for example.
- From the overflow to these notes: on the impact of diorama-type work, she said “Maybe by making something the wrong size, artists get you to process it with a different part of your brain”, referencing things like how we don’t really process an image of a face if it’s upside down. This is food for thought for me as I continue to work with, and be interested, in representations of space at small scales.
I visited LIC Open Studios at the end of last month and saw a significant amount of work that really resonated with me aesthetically. Some highlights:
Alexis Duque (website)
I’m of course a fan of the super dense city drawing style; I was also really intrigued by the way he translated it onto carved sculptural works as well. I’m definitely considering trying out something like that.
Kathy Ferguson (website)
I’ve seen her work at previous open studios; this year she was demonstrating gel plate printing, which she uses to get the different textures that she collages together onto her works.
Kyoko Takei (website)
I’ve also seen her work before but it continues to be fascinating; it’s so delicate and intriguing.
Marjorie Van Cura
Very interesting markmaking on clear film–another project I’ve been hoping to try…
Overall it was a particularly inspiring event, and I’m looking forward to working on some new projects out of these ideas!
Some highlights from the recent Governors Island Art Fair in New York:
I’m a huge fan of works that take advantage of the architectural setting. The installations are all in decaying governors’ quarters on the island, and the best ones really meld with and play off of their surroundings.
There’s some beautiful outdoor installations as well:
And the beautiful day and gorgeous views definitely don’t detract :)
First we saw a map/diagram art show at the Center for Book Arts in New York:
Inge Bruggeman, the infinite between us, 2011
This piece was incredible; it was a music box whose tape feed was a chart of weather data; when you fed a tape through the box, it mechanically “played” the weather.
Sarah Bouchard, Weather Box, 2014
It was very simple and conceptually fascinating. I’d love to make something like that at some point.
We also went to the Brooklyn Art Library, home to the Sketchbook Project archives. I requested a mappy sketchbook through their system—and randomly received the sketchbook of Clint Fulkerson (who I’ve followed on Instagram for a while) as well! That system is lovely.
Saw some of my favorite street art too—the huge fish/city mural inside Jackbar in Williamsburg.
And I couldn’t miss communing with de Chirico at MoMA. I’ve been inspired by that kind of uncanny-valley dreamlike Surrealist architecture for a while. I think it’s not unrelated to the feeling of seeing a map that could be real but isn’t…