You See More When You Draw (so stop taking photos)

In today’s world of mobile phones and media a visit to a museum is often a passive and superficial experience. Visitors are easily distracted and do not truly experience beauty, magic and wonder. The Rijksmuseum wants to help visitors discover and appreciate the beauty of art and history through drawing, so #start drawing in the galleries of the museum.

CFP: Places & Spaces: Mapping Science exhibit

The Places & Spaces exhibit invites the showcase of interactive visualization. The “Macroscope Phase” of the exhibit is devoted to tools that demonstrate the power of data analysis and visualization techniques, empower individuals to make their own science maps, and help improve data visualization literacy globally.

More details:

Each entry must be submitted by February 29, 2016.

Carolyn Merchant on her new book: Autonomous Nature

In this interview Carolyn Merchant talks about her new book, Autonomous Nature: Problems of Prediction and Control from Ancient Times to the Scientific Revolution.

In this interview Carolyn Merchant talks about her new book, Autonomous Nature: Problems of Prediction and Control from Ancient Times to the Scientific Revolution. The book  investigates the history of nature as an active, often unruly force in tension with nature as a rational, logical order from ancient times to the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century.

Ways of Seeing: Human and Animal Perspectives

A fascinating article in Atlantic brings to mind how limited our perspective is when we focus only on human seeing.

Many of us equate the variety of ways in which we see with John Berger’s classic book Ways of Seeing, also presented as a series on BBC. His book’s focus on cultural perspectives doesn’t touch on how differently humans and animals see. Berger later wrote an essay, “Why Look at Animals?” a part his 1980 anthology About Looking, which examines how we look at animals, but not how animals see.

A fascinating article in Atlantic brings to mind how limited our perspective is when we focus primarily on human seeing. The subject of how animals see is a fascinating field study, one that warrants more attention, as a recent article titled “This Animal Has a Suit of Armor With Hundreds of Built-In Eyes” reminds us. This article introduces a group of little-known sea creatures called chitons. They have evolved armor contains hundreds of eyes.

Chitons are mollusks, related to snails, clams, and octopuses. Their oval bodies are covered by a hard shell consisting of eight overlapping plates, which makes them look a bit like a woodlouse with a skirt, or perhaps like the forehead of a Klingon. In many species, these plates are dotted with hundreds of tiny beads, each less than a tenth of a millimeter across. These are eyes. Each contains a lens, a light-sensitive retina, and a layer of black pigment.

For links to a variety of examples on how animals see, visit Christopher Tyler’s Eye Page. He also includes links to a number of other sites. The image accompanying this post is from Tyler’s site. It is the eye of a female net-casting spider from Australia. The large lens concentrates light on the retina.

Tyler Talk: Time, Light and the Nature of Conscious Vision

“Time, Light and the Nature of Conscious Vision” by Christopher W. Tyler presentation at the Institute of Philosophy, University of London, April 23rd, 2015


“Time, Light and the Nature of Conscious Vision” by Christopher W. Tyler
Institute of Philosophy, University of London, April 23rd, 2015

This lecture will take a large-scope view of the field of vision, which has always had a significant place in the history of philosophy. Lucretius in the early days of the Roman empire had a clear view of light as a wavefront, or film, propagating into the eye, a view that continued through Robert Grosseteste in the C13th, and Leonardo da Vinci in the C15th. How far have we come in understand of light as the medium of vision since then? In fact, we have added the magnetic and polarization components, but the basic concept of a wavefront propagating through time and space has remained unchanged into the quantum era. I will propose a new post-Einsteinian view of the nature of both time and light in this context conceptualized as the fractal extrapolation of a 6D space-time kernel.

Continue reading “Tyler Talk: Time, Light and the Nature of Conscious Vision”

“Alice through the Looking-Glass of Eleanor of Aquitaine”

“Alice through the Looking-Glass of Eleanor of Aquitaine” presented by Christopher Tyler at the “Alice through the Ages” Conference, Homerton College, Cambridge, Sept 15th-17th, 2015.

oxford-alicePresentation by Christopher Tyler
“Alice through the Ages” Conference
Homerton College, Cambridge,
Sept 15th-17th, 2015.

There is one large-scale motif running through the two books that has largely escaped critical attention – the pervasive mediaeval theme. It is remarkable that there has been little examination main context of the Alice stories, the mediaeval temperament of many of the characters. The present treatment focuses on some remarkable parallels between the travails of the fictional Alice and a historical Alice who lived in the time of the knights and castles, duchesses and chess games that figure so largely in the narrative. This earlier Alice spent her life as a trading pawn of the Plantagenet and Capetian monarchs of England and France, a lost soul on the checkerboard of 12th century territorial intrigues. She was a daughter of King Louis VII of France known as Alice of the Vexin, an aptly eponymous territory that has been the site of struggles between the English and continental powers from the 10th to the 20th centuries. For much of her life, this Princess Alice was held hostage by the Plantagenet court, successively held as a bargaining chip by Queen Eleanor and King Henry II, and their sons Richard the Lionheart and John.

I will explore the proposition that Lewis Carroll, in his efforts to beguile the young Alice Liddell on their boat trips between Oxford and Woodstock might have drawn inspiration for many aspects of the Alice stories from the local mediaeval history of two of the principal castles of these towns, Beaumont Palace and Woodstock Castle, which served as two of the courts of these protagonists (and where both Plantagenet princes were born). As the son of a mediaevalist (Rev Charles Dodgson), Lewis Carroll had ample opportunity for exposure to these stories, known from the mediaeval history of Ranulf Higden of Cheshire.

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Article: Tyler Study debunking myths about color vision (Optometry Today )

Abstract: A set of structured demonstrations of the vividness of peripheral color vision is provided by arrays of multicolored disks scaled with eccentricity. These demonstrations are designed to correct the widespread misconception that peripheral color vision is weak or nonexistent. (Christopher Tyler)

Research debunks misconceptions around peripheral colour visionStudy uses arrays of multicoloured disks to demonstrate colour perception in peripheral vision

Some common science-related misconceptions are particularly persistent, such as a duck’s quack doesn’t echo, or that we only use 10% of our brains.

Now new research from City University London is aiming to dispel a long-held misbelief relating to colour vision: that it is weak or non-existent in our periphery vision.

“This misconception about weak peripheral colour vision is completely incorrect,” said Professor Christopher Tyler, a visual neuroscientist at the university’s School of Optometry and Vision Science, who carried out the study.

“Although the number of cone photoreceptors is lower in the periphery than in the fovea, with about 4000 cones per mm2 throughout the peripheral retina compared to 200,000 in the central fovea, this is still plenty enough to give colour vision,” said Professor Tyler.

Continue reading article in OT (Optometry Today), 11 Nov 2015 by Ryan O’Hare

Read the full study in

After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain (Reviewed by Amy Ione)

After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain (Reviewed by Amy Ione)

After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain
by Michael L. Anderson
Reviewed by Amy IoneDirector, The Diatrope Institute

After Phrenology by Michael L. Anderson is a unique and thought-provoking contribution to the current debate on how cognition interfaces with the environment and how we can move scientific studies of the brain forward. His theory of “neural reuse” is a proposal for how we may re-frame the debate and fills in some of the gaps that exist now when we communicate about the mind, the brain, and the environment. The basic idea is that, rather than seeing localized areas of brain activity as the way to define brain functionality, we should investigate the neural circuitry combinations that are employed to perform complex functions. Included in this notion is recognizing that our ways of doing things are both active and environmentally connected. For Anderson, “the Modern, Modular, cognitivist assumptions that have guided research during most of the last 50 years of cognitive neuroscience have not been borne out by the data this research produced” (p. 301-302) and, thus, this book is a call for a new kind of approach–neural reuse. He additionally offers a theoretical framework that claims to show how this design offers an evolutionarily informed framework, one that has the capacity to both explain brain functions and recognize our embeddedness in our environments. Continue reading “After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain (Reviewed by Amy Ione)”

Free Arts Day Festival October 17th

To celebrate National Arts & Humanities Month the El Cerrito Arts & Culture Commission is sponsoring a free Arts Day Festival on Saturday October 17th from 1 to 5 pm at El Cerrito City Hall.

To celebrate National Arts & Humanities Month the El Cerrito Arts & Culture Commission is sponsoring a free Arts Day Festival on Saturday October 17th from 1 to 5 pm at El Cerrito City Hall.

Activities and performances include a puppet show by Children’s Fairyland puppeteers, sidewalk chalk art, surf music by the Del Mars, film short by Les Blank, poetry reading by Kirk Lumpkin, street photography workshop, and classical chamber music performances by the KSO Trio and the JCT Trio. Painter Deb Danziger will give an artist’s talk about her solo exhibition in the City Hall Gallery, entitled Beyond & Below, and we’ll have a creative reuse “Make ‘n Take” booth.

Local arts and cultural groups with exhibits include Playland Not-At-The-BeachThe Arts & Culture Commission of Contra Costa County, the El Cerrito Historical Society, and the Shadi Holiday Display Committee.

Want to get involved with or volunteer to help out? Are you hosting an arts or cultural event, performance or exhibit in October in El Cerrito that you’d like to have included on the Arts Month web page? Other questions? Call Suzanne Iarla at 510-215-4318. For more information, including tentative times (which will be updated if revised), check out my blog post.