Colin Blakemore, Professor of Neuroscience & Philosophy, Director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses, School of Advanced Study, University of London
We see the world in three dimensions, despite the fact that the image in the eye is essentially two-dimensional. Our forward-pointing eyes give us the luxury of stereoscopic vision – the ability to interpret the relative distances of objects and features in the world from the tiny differences between the images in the two eyes. But if you close one eye, you can still perceive distance on the basis of information in a single image, particularly from perspective. How do our brains enable us to interpret perspective? And how, if at all, are monocular cues are integrated with stereoscopic vision? The answers have implications not only for figurative art but also for architecture. I shall offer an explanation for one of the puzzles in the history of architecture – why Michelangelo apparently made a mistake in the design of Rome’s most famous piazza.
Sir Colin Blakemore is Professor of Neuroscience & Philosophy in the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at Oxford. From 2003-7 he was Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council. His research is concerned with many aspects of vision, development and plasticity of the brain. He has been President of the British Science Association, the British Neuroscience Association, the Physiological Society and the Royal Society of Biology. He is strongly committed to engagement between science and the public. He is a frequent broadcaster and he writes for the national and international press.