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da Vinci’s Vision: The Beauty (and Limitations) of Painting a 3D World

May 8, 2019 at 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Location:1301 Health Sciences Building

Lecture Synopsis

The magnificent paintings of Leonardo da Vinci and other artists of the Renaissance are characterized by a dramatic increase in realism and in particular by their remarkably vivid 3D representation of the world. Indeed, whereas pre-Renaissance art was iconographic and ‘flat’, a number of techniques increasingly brought 3D accuracy and fullness to paintings, beginning in the 14th century. First, we will briefly review these techniques as used by Leonardo, and emphasize that they parallel the heuristics developed by the brain to extract depth information from a 2D retinal image. Second, we will show that da Vinci was aware of the limitations of 2D representations, and was the first to correctly observe that because the two eyes normally receive slightly different views of a 3D scene, it is impossible to convey a full sense of 3D on a 2D canvas. Finally, we will explore the emerging notion that both his artistic mastery and his inability to fully grasp the power of stereoscopic vision (Wheatstone would be credited with this understanding more than 300 years later) might have been due to his having a mild eye misalignment called exotropia (a form of strabismus).

Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Departments of Psychology and Neuroscience

Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon started his five-year mandate as President of Carleton University on July 1, 2018. He joined Carleton from Queen’s University where he served as Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). He previously served as Provost and Vice-President (Academic Affairs) at Concordia University in his hometown of Montreal where he was recognized with an award as Concordia University’s Sustainability Champion.

His first academic appointment was at Bishop’s University, where he served in a number of leadership roles including Dean of Arts and Science, Associate Vice-Principal for Research, chair of the psychology department and chief negotiator for the association of professors of Bishop’s University. He is a three-time recipient of Bishop’s Merit Award for exceptional performance in teaching and research.

Dr. Bacon holds a PhD in neuropsychology from the University of Montreal, after which he undertook an NSERC-funded post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

His research in the field of cognitive neuroscience focuses on the links between brain activity and perception in the visual and auditory systems, as well as on multisensory integration. He remains associated with the Montreal-based Neuropsychology and Cognition Research Center (CERNEC), which is funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS).

Register Now for da Vinci's Vision on May 8