Brain expert teams up with artist for exhibition on how we see art at University of Leicester

By Culture24 Staff | 24 February 2011
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A photo of a man with black curly hair standing in front of a white board with scientific scribblings on it
Professor Quian Quiroga, the University of Leicester's resident art-science genius© le.ac.uk
“The links between science and arts have so far been very limited,” says Professor Quian Quiroga, an Argentine neuroscientist who has garnered international praise for discovering a type of neuron in the brain which acts unusually when people glimpse celebrities.

“Neuroscientists study issues such as colour, shape and depth perception, which are well-known in arts. In this respect, the basic idea of our project is to combine knowledge about visual perception from arts and neuroscience and create an exhibition showing the principles involved.”

The Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Leicester has won £30,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to investigate the way we perceive pictures and sculptures – specifically, the processes in the brain which allow us to appreciate and enjoy paintings.

As part of a Channel 4 documentary scheduled for screening this summer, artist Mariano Molina visited Quiroga’s lab, and now he will create a series of canvases promising to demonstrate the basic principles of visual perception as part of the project.

An image of a neuroscientific image of the way the brain and perception works
The Center of Gaze, a previous work by Mariano Molina in collaboration with Professor Quiroga
“The opportunity is extraordinary,” he says. “I am excited to start conceiving new art pieces using knowledge from neuroscience research, mixing it with all the resources and skills that I have learnt from years of practicing visual arts.”

Culminating in an Arts and Science exhibition planned for later this year, the quest has powerful accomplices in the form of experts from Leicester’s School of Museum Studies.

“It is very interesting that visual artists have long been aware, at least intuitively, of some principles of visual perception in Neuroscience,” adds Quiroga.

“Our goal is not only to create novel art pieces, but also to use these canvases as an engaging way to show principles that explain something as interesting as how we see.”
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