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Released March 3, 2005


HATTIESBURG – Harvard professor and neurobiologist Dr. Margaret Livingstone is an authority on the science of visual perception. She will share the results of the research for her book Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing in a guest lecture at The University of Southern Mississippi at 6 p.m. March 10 at Bennett Auditorium.

"The lecture should appeal to many on campus and in the community--be they artists or art enthusiasts, scientists or psychologists," said Mark Rigsby, director of the Museum of Art at Southern Miss. Partners for the Arts is also sponsoring the free public lecture.

A review of Livingstone's book sums up its broad appeal: "Successfully linking art with visual perception, she demonstrates that commonalities exist between artistic sensibility and our visual apparatus."

As a full-fledged neurobiologist, Livingstone has the background to simplify the range of scientific information that forms the common ground of visual art and visual science without explaining away the power of art.

"Artists have been doing experiments on vision longer than neurobiologists. Some major works of art have made major discoveries about how we see," Livingstone said. "Artists have long realized that color and luminance can play independent roles in visual perception."

To back her theory, she cites renowned artist Pablo Picasso, who believed that "colors are only symbols…reality is to be found in luminance alone." For Livingstone, many techniques developed over the centuries by artists can be understood in terms of the parallel organization of our visual systems.

In her lecture, Livingstone will explore "how the segregation of color and luminance processing are the basis for why some Impressionist paintings seem to shimmer, why some pop art paintings seem to move, some principles of Matisse's use of color, and how the Impressionists painted 'air.'"

In addition, Livingstone will show how the differences in resolution across one's visual field make the smile of the Mona Lisa elusive and why learning disabilities may be associated with some kinds of artistic talent.

The lecture is presented in conjunction with the museum's current exhibition, "A View to the Past: Old Master Prints and Drawings from the New Orleans Museum of Art," from NOMA's permanent collection of prints and drawings. The exhibition runs through March 24 and features approximately 80 drawings and prints that have not been shown outside the New Orleans Museum.

The Museum of Art at Southern Miss is located in the Fine Arts Building at the southwest corner of the campus. The hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m-5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission to the museum is free and open to the public. School and community group tours are welcome. For more information on the Livingstone lecture or the exhibition, call (601) 266-5200.


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April 8, 2005 2:42 PM