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HomeminewsUnique View of Artists

Unique View of Artists

“Artists see better than the rest of us because they think more about what they are seeing and vision is a largely cognitive process…”

Emeritus Professor Doug Coster AO, a retired academic ophthalmologist whose principal interest was in corneal transplantation, recently presented the 2016 Annual Gerrard Crock Lecture on seeing and art at the University of Melbourne.

“Along the way I developed an interest in visual perception and art as I saw a number of artists as patients and was surprised by their vision, which tended to be better than expected… Not having a ready explanation for the observation I undertook what has turned out to be a prolonged investigation,” he said.

This was the stimulus for him to learn to draw and paint. Additionally the study of the history of art led to broader research into history, leading Prof. Coster to conclude, “Artists are illusionists.”

Artists began thinking about vision centuries ago…

“Artists began thinking about vision centuries ago… They were the first group of people to pursue an understanding of vision for professional reasons and perhaps not surprisingly they were particularly interested in illusions.”

“Science came into the picture much later… psychologists made formal descriptions of the illusions artists had used for centuries. Physiologists were later able to establish the neural basis of the illusions…”

Prof. Coster suggests that artists resort to looking for the horizontal, vertical and oblique elements of a letter hence providing better visual acuity.