Postponed- Surreal Artist as Visual Neuroscientist: Perceptuo-Cognitive Analysis of Selected Works of René Magritte

Upcoming Event Date: 


Professor Russell Hamer, Florida Atlantic University, Department of Psychology


Christopher Tyler

Meeting room: 

Room 204 - Main Conference Room

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Abstract - Magritte, the famous Belgian Surrealist, played masterfully with aspects of visual perception that we in the field of  Sensory-Perceptual neuroscience have studied for many years. His art draws us into reflections on the very nature of perception, on what is seen and what is hidden, on the 'silent' and hierarchical nature of object segregation and scene construction that reveal a dynamic interplay between the stream of bottom-up sensory information modulated quickly and automatically by top-down neural influences. Magritte reveals to us our unconscious perceptual “rules”, and examines, almost as a scientist, the very nature of representation itself. His works reveal layers of surprising effects of interest to both artists and scientists alike. I will discuss selected works from Magritte’ huge oeuvre that vividly illustrate the neuro-perceptual impact of his approach. Also, I touch on the communicative, discursive features, the cognitive and emotional conversations Magritte initiates between him and us, the viewers, regarding meaning and shared human experience.  As expected, the meanings evoked from Magritte’s conceptual palette are not literal, and decidedly resonant with delicious ambiguity, borne by the magical interplay between Magritte’s imagination and our automatic perceptions, expectations, and idiosyncratic memories.