RIP: Jonathan Miller (1934-2019)

Jonathan Miller (1934-2019) was an English theatre and opera director, actor, author, television presenter, humorist and medical doctor. After training in medicine and specializing in neurology in the late 1950s, he came to prominence in the early 1960s in the comedy revue Beyond the Fringe with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett. He died 27 November 2019 at the age of 85. Obituary here.

At the age of 12, at the St. Paul’s School, his lifelong friendship with Dr. Oliver Sacks began. Indeed, the neurologist’s journey to international fame began when Mr. Miller showed the original manuscript of Dr. Sacks’s book “Awakenings” to a London publisher.

Another noteworthy interdisciplinary project was in 1983 with “States of Mind.” He interviewed the art historian Ernst Gombrich, the philosopher and scientist Daniel Dennett and others about consciousness and the brain.

In 1978 he presented “The Body in Question,” a 13-part BBC series about human biology during which he performed an autopsy on a dead vagrant. The book from that series, The Body in Question, is available here.

Now Available: Eye centring in selfies posted on Instagram

Abstract
Earlier work by one of us examined a historical corpus of portraits and found that artists often paint the subject such that one eye is centred horizontally. If due to psychological mechanisms constraining artistic composition, this eye-centring bias should be detectable also in portraits by non-professionals. However, this finding has been questioned both on theoretical and empirical grounds. Here we tested eye-centring in a larger (N ~ = 4000) and more representative set of selfies spontaneously posted on Instagram from six world cities. In contrast with previous selfie results, the distribution of the most-centred eye position peaked almost exactly at the horizontal centre of the image and was statistically different from predictions based on realistic Monte-Carlo predictions. In addition, we observed a small but statistically reliable pseudoneglect effect as well as a preference for centring the left-eye. An eye-centring tendency appears to exist in self-portraits by non-artists.

Authors: Nicola BrunoID1*, Marco Bertamini2*, Christopher W. Tyler
PLoS ONE14(7): e0218663.
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1 DiMeC, Università di Parma, Parma, Italy,

2 Department of Psychological Science, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom,

3 Division of Optometry and Vision Sciences, School of Health Sciences, City University of London, London, United Kingdom

* M.Bertamini@liverpool.ac.uk (MB); nicola.bruno@unipr.it (NB)

(Also see MedicalResearch.com interview here and articles)

EXHIBITION: Mana BSMT Presents: N. M. Brandreth’s Phantasmagoria’s Seeing Shadows

Apr. 26–Jun. 7, 2019
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Have you ever glimpsed a movement out of the corner of your eye and turned to find nothing there? Have you ever bolted up the basement steps convinced that something was down there with you? Seeing Shadows attempts to visualize these sensations as photographic objects. Derived from Brandreth’s love for horror and the macabre, and from the histories of photography and film, these unique handmade works are at once seductive and utterly uncanny.

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Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures by Eric R. Kandel (Reviewed by Amy Ione)

Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures
by Eric R. Kandel
Columbia University Press, NY, NY, 2016
240 pp. Trade: $29.95, ISBN-10: 0231179626;ISBN-13: 978-0231179621
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Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures by Eric Kandel, like his study The Age of Insight [1], builds on earlier efforts to couple science and art, particularly those of Alois Riegl (1858-1905), Ernst Kris (1900-1957), and Ernst Gombrich (1909-2001). These three men, he tells us, endeavored to establish art history as a scientific discipline by grounding it in psychological principles. Riegl emphasized the “beholder’s involvement, stating that art includes the perceptual and emotional involvement of the viewer. Kris studied ambiguity in visual perception, concluding that every powerful image is inherently ambiguous because it arises from experiences and conflicts in the artist’s life. Gombrich extended Kris’ ideas to include the inverse optics problem: how our brain takes the incomplete information about the outside world that it receives from our eyes and makes it complete. This is a problem that arises because the brain reconstructs the images we see. It should be noted that Gombrich’s positioning in his well known Art and Illusion [2] is, like Kandel’s, more concerned with beholders than artists or the community.

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You See More When You Draw (so stop taking photos)

In today’s world of mobile phones and media a visit to a museum is often a passive and superficial experience. Visitors are easily distracted and do not truly experience beauty, magic and wonder.

The Rijksmuseum wants to help visitors discover and appreciate the beauty of art and history through drawing, so #start drawing in the galleries of the museum.