The University Record, November 5, 1996

'Representation and Images' examines image processing in art, science, culture

Pianist Andrew Mead will discuss human physiology, language and music as part of 'Representation and Images,' the Institute for the Humanities' Nov. 9 symposium.

Photo by Gregory Fox

By Betsy Nisbet
Institute for the Humanities


The Institute for the Humanities will hold a free, public symposium, "Representation and Images," examining how we process images in art, science and culture. The symposium, part of the Institute's year-long exploration of the theme "Images and the Imaginary," takes place 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 9 in Auditorium B, Angell Hall.

Speakers will explore ways of representing and understanding images, looking at how an artist or scientist turns imagined and physical images into visual form. Taking examples from biology, music, geometry and art, they will ask what these images have to say about facets of life in worlds different from our own.

Diane Kirkpatrick, professor of art history and interim director of the Institute for the Humanities, adds that the symposium also will explore the relationship between mental and physical reality. "Sometimes the mental reality supersedes the physical one or helps us better understand it, and I suspect sometimes it allows us to comprehend or experience more fully the continuum that stretches between the two." Kirkpatrick will moderate the symposium.

Symposium Schedule:
10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.:

Stephen Easter (biology), "The Representation and Analysis of Images in the Brain." Easter will examine the way the brain organizes and analyzes visual information, noting a number of studies that clarify the human brain's methods for processing images.


Andrew Mead (Institute Fellow, music), "Bodily Hearing: Physiological Metaphors and Musical Understanding." Mead will discuss the ways human physiology contributes to our language and thinking about music. He observes that the advent of electronic transmission, recording and production of music has blurred certain universals about the experience of hearing music.

1:45-4 p.m.:

Philip Hanlon (mathematics), "Why Does Geometry Have to Be So Mathematical?" Hanlon describes how geometry can be used to describe visual phenomena in abstract mathematical terms. He suggests that there are important reasons to formalize and abstract visual reasoning, in particular the need to use geometric intuition in spaces that have no visual representation.


Marion (Mame) Jackson (art history, Wayne State University), "Where `Sleeps' Are a Measure of Miles---Concepts of Space and Time in Inuit Art." Jackson will talk about the relationship between drawn images and patterns of thinking in Inuit art, using drawings and maps that illustrate Inuit understanding of the land and humankind's place in it.

4 p.m.: Concluding panel discussion.

For information, call 936-3518 or send e-mail to