Yale University School of Art
1156 Chapel Street, POB 208339
New Haven, Connecticut, 06520-8339
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Art 911, Theories of Perception
Green C106

Theories of visual perception in Western artistic practice since the Renaissance. Perceptual theories do not exist in a vacuum. Not only have they been conceived in terms of mathematics, physical science, philosophy and cognitive psychology, they are also generally embroiled in political and ethical issues. They have long been of keen interest to artists, most of whom abide by a theory of perception whether they know it or not. Some artistic disciplines, such as painting and photography, traditionally consider a grasp of scientific perceptual theory indispensible. In this seminar we read closely and discuss a series of important primary sources, beginning with Alberti´┐Ż??s treatise on perspective, and ending with poststructuralist writings on perception, covering such topics as accounts of the restoration of sight to patients born blind, the theories of Gestalt psychology along with their application to art, and the speculations of philosophers ranging from John Locke to Merleau Ponty. Students are encouraged to question the ethical ramifications of their own assumptions about perception. Requirements: Active participation and completion of all readings; and a seminar report and paper on a topic of your choice (which may concern your own artistic practice), approved by the instructor. Margaret Olin.

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