Art

Cognitive Daily

Category archives for Art

Greta and I did our undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago, or as a commonly-sold T-shirt on campus put it, “where fun goes to die.” To say that Chicago didn’t emphasize academics over a social life is to deny that people literally lived in the library (a full-scale campsite was found behind one of…

Take another look at this picture of the Rokeby Venus from last week’s post on mirrors in art: Now, imagine you’re actually in the room with Venus, as depicted in this painting. You suspend your astonishment long enough to conduct a quick test of the principle of how a flat mirror works. Consider what would…

The Rokeby Venus by Diego Velázquez is a good example of a very common illusion in many paintings: Most viewers would say this picture depicts a woman viewing her own reflection in a mirror. But based on the orientation of the mirror, it’s actually physically impossible for her to see her own reflection. Since we…

Take a look at these two pictures of the Mona Lisa: They’re derived from a series of images of the famous painting that had been obscured by random noise filters (like when your old analog TV wasn’t getting a signal), like this: Each picture appears to have a slightly different facial expression — some happier,…

What is so mesmerizing about pointillist paintings like Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon at La Grande Jatte? At first, we’re impressed by the technical virtuosity of the work. It’s an immense painting that Greta and I visited many times when we were in college in Chicago (and now, whenever we return for a visit): As you can…

Some of the things psychologists ask their research subjects to do are really rather annoying. I’m not talking about Milgram-esque studies where people confront their inner demons, I’m talking about much more pedestrian stuff. This movie, for example, gives you a small taste of the Sustained Attention to Response Test (SART). A series of numbers…

This is a guest post by Suzie Eckl, one of Greta’s top student writers for Spring 2007 Forget color television. Before we had color, we had black and white. Before we had movies, we had photographs. And before photographs we had… Engravings? Prior to August 19, 1839, the date Daguerre and Niepce revealed that they…

Artists look different

These two pictures represent the eye motions of two viewers as they scan a work of art with the goal of remembering it later. One of them is a trained artist, and the other is a trained psychologist. Can you tell which is which? How about for this picture? Art teachers have noted that when…

Actually, a picture is worth 1.5 words

Everyone knows the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Bound by that axiom, magazines, newspapers, and most of all, TV, bombard us with pictures every day. The latest hot internet properties aren’t text-based sites like Google but picture-based sites like Flickr and YouTube. Psychological research backs this up: we do remember pictures more…

[originally posted on March 16, 2005] I’ve taken only two pictures of the Mona Lisa, and both turned out about the same: they captured the frenzied attempts of dozens of tourists trying to take a picture of the most-recognized image in the world. Here’s the one I took last summer: I hadn’t noticed it until…