Explore the ways our brain interprets color & form

In the natural world, light rays reflect off objects and enter the human eye, allowing us to see. Our eyes and vision are a product of hundreds of millions of years of evolution, which has allowed us to perceive shapes and colors around us.

For thousands of years, skillful artists have mastered the application of pigments on to two-dimensional surfaces of canvas, or board, or bare rock, to reflect light to be deciphered by the neural mechanisms of the retina and brain as representations of the real world.

This course will begin with pictorial art from Paleolithic cave paintings in southern Europe followed by Western art's evolution into mid-twentieth century abstract expressionism. We'll discuss how these and ancient and modern works can be interpreted by our visual system.

We'll track the development of form, color, perspective, facial representation, and more, and examine how our eyes and visual cortex process the two-dimensional pattern of light reflected on to our retina to form a perception of the artwork before us.