Vision & Art: Neuroscience 320 at Wellesley College  
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Guest Lecturers

Robert Levin lecture topic


Robert Levin
Lighting Scientist, Osram Sylvania.
Bio: Dr. Levin is well-known and well-decorated within the lighting profession. He holds more than 45 patents on lighting technologies, including an infrared floodlight for security cameras and optical systems for headlamps, photocopiers, and projectors. In 1995, he earned the highest award in the lighting profession, the Gold Medal of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. OSRAM SYLVANIA, a Siemens company, is one of the three largest lighting and precision materials and components companies in the world.

Lecture: Through the use of assorted light bulbs, projectors, and boxes, Dr. Levin reveals some of the fundamental properties of light as they pertain to vision, making clear the importance of understanding the spectral composition of an illuminant as well as its intensity when studying how the visual system interprets an object’s color.

Photo of John McCann


John McCann
Bio: John is a consultant on color and image processing. He graduated from Harvard College in 1964 with a degree in Biology. In 1964 under the direction of Edwin Land he became the manager of the Vision Research Laboratory where his work on human psychophysics has included research on rods as color receptors, low-spatial-frequency vision, mathematical models of color vision and quantitative tests of Retinex theory. As Senior Manager in the Research Division of Polaroid, he directed the Vision Research Laboratory until retiring from Polaroid in 1996. His work has led to 81 publications and 12 patents. more information?

Lecture: In 1977, Edwin Land published a novel theory for human color vision based on a phenomenon known as color constancy—that objects preserve their color identity under different lighting conditions. In this groundbreaking paper, Land uses several powerful demonstrations to support a description of color vision based on a retina-and-cortex system, wherein the brain treats color as a code for a three-piece retinal report correlated with the reflectance of objects. Dr. McCann and Jeannie Benton present these elegant demos to the class.
Photo of Jeannie Benton


Jeannie Benton
Research Associate, Beltz Lab, Wellesley College
Bio: She is a former member of the Edwin Land Research Laboratory, Polaroid, and currently the senior laboratory research assistant in the Beltz lab at Wellesley.

Lecture: Jeannie Benton works together with John McCann on the light demonstrations.
Photo of Marcia Smilack


Marcia Smilack
Bio: Dr. Marcia Smilack is an accomplished artist and writer, who uses her ability as a synesthete to create art. Synethesia is phenomenon by which the stimulation of one cognitive or sensory pathway leads to the involuntary stimulation of a second pathway, causing the sensation of "linked" senses. For example, a synesthete could hear a tone on the piano that would simultaneously cause a red flash. For every synesthete, the experiences are different. She describes it, "I hear with my eyes and see with my ears". Dr. Smilack has appeared in documentary films, many magazine articles, several books, and currently has both permanent collections and gallery installations all over the United States. She is also a professional speaker on the subject of her work and the experience of being a synesthete. more information?

Lecture: Marcia presents her works—stunning photographs of images reflected on the surface of water--and provides a candid artists perspective on synestheisa.

Photo of Margaret Livingstone


Margaret Livingstone
Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard University
Bio: Margaret Livingstone is a neurobiologist at Harvard Medical School. Her work is closely linked to that of her mentor and Nobel-prize laureate, David Hubel; together, they have studied the physiological processing of visual information. Dr. Livingstone has also researched mapping techniques that helped to elucidate fundamental computations strategies in visual processing. Currently she is using functional MRI technology to study face, shape and symbolic recognition in macaque monkeys. A talented writer, she has also written a popular book for both scientists and non-specialists, Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing (Abrams, 2002) which brings the science of “seeing” to the experience of visual art. more information?
Lecture: Dr. Livingstone presents her lecture on “Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing”. The same lecture she gives at Wellesley has been recorded at the University of Alabama.
Photo of David Hubel


David Hubel,
Nobel Laureate, Medicine or Physiology, 1981
Bio: Dr. David Hubel is an author, researcher and professor at Harvard Medical School. His work has been definitive in the study of the visual system through the later half of the 20th century. Dr. Hubel and his research partners Torsten Wiesel and Roger Sperry, shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1981 for their collective work in visual processing. He is also the author of Eye, Brain and Vision (Scientific American, 1995) and Brain and Visual Perception (Oxford University Press, 2004). more information?
Lecture: Dr. Hubel has given a lecture at Wellesley every semseter since 2007; in 2012 he gave his last lecture to our students.
Photo of Amanda Goltz


Amanda Goltz
Bio: Amanda Goltz is a health care executive working and living in the Boston area. Having a genetic predisposition to two different forms of colorblindness on both sides of her family causes Amanda to have been almost completely colorblind since birth. Living in a world where color is not a reliable way to differentiate between or describe objects and experiences, Amanda places a higher reliance on texture, reflectivity, and depth of her surroundings to navigate her surroundings. Amanda often speaks to groups about her experiences, others' reactions, and how she determines whether to speed up or come to a stop at a traffic stoplight. more information?

Lecture: Amanda came to visit the Vision and Art class in 2009 to talk about life as an individual who lacks color vision. She spoke enthusiastically about her love for textures and was quick to note her reliance on achromatic clothing. She even let Professor Conway perform a brief psychophysical test on her.
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Straus Center StaffBio: The Straus Center provides analysis and treatments for the collections of the Harvard University Art Museums. These collections include more than 150,000 objects in all media, ranging in date from antiquity to the present, and coming from Europe, North America, North Africa, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. The collections are divided among ten curatorial departments and are comprehensive and encyclopedic within their areas. Together, they comprise one of the finest University art collections in the world, with resources rivaling or exceeding those of many major city museums. In addition to serving the conservation needs of the Art Museums, the Straus Center also operates as a regional conservation facility providing fee-for-service treatments, surveys, and consultations for other museums, libraries, historical societies, historical sites, and private art collectors.
The Straus Center for Conservation plays a leading role not only in preserving specific works of art but also in developing new methods and techniques for the field of conservation and in training the next generation of conservators. more information?


Photo of Bunny Harvey

Bunny Harvey
Professor of Art, Wellesley College
Bio: Bunny Harvey is an internationally known painter and since 1976 has been teaching art at Wellesley College. Harvey has shown regularly in New York City since 1974 and is now represented there by the Berry-Hill Galleries. She has had many other one-woman exhibitions in the United States and Europe including retrospective shows at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, the Fuller Museum in Brockton, Mass., and the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. In addition to the Rome prize, she has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Pell Award for excellence in the Arts, an Individual Artist Grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and faculty awards from Wellesley College supporting projects ranging from street archaeology in the jewelry district of Providence to X-ray as a drawing technique. more information?

Lecture: Professor Harvey and many of the other faculty members in the Studio art department participate in the Vision and Art course by providing art crits of student work and discussion issues of art practice from a studio perspective



Caroline Jones's picture

CAroline Jones
Professor of Art History, MIT
Bio: Caroline Jones studies modern and contemporary art, with a particular focus on its technological modes of production, distribution, and reception. Trained in visual studies and art history at Harvard, she did graduate work at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York before completing her PhD at Stanford University in 1992.
Previous to completing her art history degree, she worked in museum administration and exhibition curation, holding positions at The Museum of Modern Art in New York (1977-83) and the Harvard University Art Museums (1983-85) while she completed two documentary films. . more information?

Lecture: Professor Jones co-taught the Vision and Art course with Bevil in the Fall of 2011, jointly offerred at MIT. Caroline collaborates with Bevil on the Art Historical aspects of the course, provides art crits of student work, and assists in mentoring students on their term projects.





  Created by : Kate Ciurej ‘08 and Donna Yee ’11
Created: July 9, 2008
Maintained By: Bevil Conway
Last Modified:July 21, 2013
Expires: July 21, 2013