Visual cognition in painting and surgery

The Royal College of Surgeons’ Hunterian Museum in London has a fascinating exhibition on at the moment entitled How do you look? that investigates the role of visual cognition in painting and surgery.

The exhibition has been conceived and led by Dr John Tchalenko from Camberwell College of Arts, who has a long-standing interest in the cognitive neuroscience of painting-relevant skills.

Also involved is artist Humphrey Ocean, who has previously been brain-scanned by Tchalenko as part of a study into novice vs expert artistic skills.

How Do You Look? examines how a painter and a surgeon use their eyes in their work, how they coordinate their eye and hand movements and how these translate into actions and creative processes. The exhibition explores the similarities and differences in their work and makes comparisons with how we all use our eyes in everyday tasks and when viewing the world around us.

Dr John Tchalenko elaborates, ‘The eye captures and the brain processes the information needed at a particular instant to fulfil the task in hand. It is how the visual system works. In the scientific jargon it’s known as “eye ‚Äì hand coordination”‘. ‘The brain does not know whether it is dealing with art, surgery or everyday life. How you look depends on what the action is, not who you are.’

There’s more at the dedicated website including dates for when the exhibition is touring the UK.

It remains at the Hunterian Museum until 22nd December 2006.

Link to info from Royal College of Surgeons.
Link to ‘How do you look?’ website.

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