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The use of optical devices in art


A book and an exhibition: Illusion in Nature and Art
Richard Gregory Scientist
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I’ve never written a proper book on art actually. I did a book, it’s edited, with a series of chapters in it called, what’s it called? I’ve forgotten what it’s called, that thing, yeah. "Illusion in Nature and Art" We did "Illusion in Nature and Art", which I did with Sir Ernst Gombrich and Sir Roland Penrose, and we set out a big, big exhibition at the ICA, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, a long time ago now, and I worked very closely with Ernst Gombrich for whom I’ve got enormous regard. Unfortunately he’s no longer with us and neither is Roland, but the three of us did this exhibition and we did a book with that name, which is rather fun. That explored really the relationship between art and illusion and it was a big exhibition. It filled the whole of the ICA, went to New York and also to San Francisco and we had various artists represented in it. I had invented a 3-D drawing machine which is rather fun but not much use, where you could doodle away actually in three dimensions, stereoscopically, which is great fun. We had that there and I don’t know but thousands and thousands of people visited the thing. It was obviously, you know, very popular. But I think this is right and I think the relationship of art to illusion and to reality, you know, is one of the really exciting things to spend one’s life thinking about.

The late British psychologist and Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychology at the University of Bristol, Richard Gregory (1923-2010), is well known for his work on perception, the psychology of seeing and his love of puns. In 1978 he founded The Exploratory, an applied science centre in Bristol – the first of its kind in the UK. He also designed and directed the Special Senses Laboratory at Cambridge which worked on the perceptual problems of astronauts, and published many books including 'The Oxford Companion to the Mind', 'Eye and Brain' and 'Mind in Science'.

Listeners: Sally Duensing Adam Hart-Davis

Sally Duensing currently is involved in perception exhibition work and research on science and society dialogue programmes and is working with informal learning research graduate students and post-docs at King's College, London. In 2000 she held the Collier Chair, a one-year invited professorship in the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Bristol, England. Prior to this, for over 20 years she was at the Exploratorium, a highly interactive museum of science, art and perception in San Francisco where she directed a variety of exhibition projects primarily in fields of perception and cognition including a large exhibition on biological, cognitive and cultural aspects of human memory.

Born on 4 July 1943, Adam Hart-Davis is a freelance photographer, writer, and broadcaster. He has won various awards for both television and radio. Before presenting, Adam spent 5 years in publishing and 17 years at Yorkshire Television, as researcher and then producer of such series as Scientific Eye and Arthur C Clarke's World of Strange Powers. He has read several books, and written about 25. His latest books are Why does a ball bounce?, Taking the piss, Just another day, and The cosmos: a beginner's guide. He has written numerous newspaper and magazine articles. He is a keen supporter of the charities WaterAid, Practical Action, Sustrans, and the Joliba Trust. A Companion of the Institution of Lighting Engineers, an Honorary Member of the British Toilet Association, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Society of Dyers and Colourists, and Merton College Oxford, and patron of a dozen charitable organizations, Adam has collected thirteen honorary doctorates, The Horace Hockley Award from the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators, a Medal from the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Medal from the Institute of Incorporated Engineers, and the 1999 Gerald Frewer memorial trophy of the Council of Engineering Designers. He has no car, but three cycles, which he rides slowly but with enthusiasm.

Duration: 1 minute, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2006

Date story went live: 02 October 2009