European Conference on Visual Perception 2019

European Conference on Visual Perception 2019

Written by: Cehao Yu

The 42nd edition of the European Conference on Visual Perception assembled perception and vision-related research conducted in many disciplines (including psychology, neurosciences, biology, computer vision, computer graphics, light and lighting technology and sports and rehabilitation). The conference was held in Leuven, a town with a rich history and architectural heritage. My optical nerves have been fully stimulated with a glance at the night view with the deep blue dusk sky as a backdrop, see the photograph. It shows how the warm ambient light, the highlights from the window reveals, and the sparkles from the vintage light sources blend together in a harmonious way. This is how an ideal vision conference should start.

Night view of Grote Markt, Leuven, Belgium

As a design engineer in the field of light and lighting, I have always believed that applications should start from addressing fundamental questions. My current academic work focuses on the exploration of chromatic light fields effects from physical and perceptual aspects. I had been selected to present my current research outcomes in the form of an oral talk. Although my rehearsals went well behind the stage, the live presentation was somewhat dramatic due to unforeseen circumstances beyond my control. Somebody in the audience fainted in the middle of my talk. Everybody was shocked, but the chairman took immediate action to arrange an ambulance and medical care. Luckily, I have managed to use some time for a re-start after a short pause and continued my presentation. The talk overall went well and the short discussions with other researchers in this field are of great value. My quest to understand more and dive deeper into this topic is only intensified.

DELFT-ESR04 presenting at ECVP2019

The conference organised various platforms to encourage positive scientific engagement, i.e. poster presentations, oral talks, symposia and keynote lectures, as well as many moments to network and meet the other participants (e.g. a conference dinner and an environment that facilitated joint lunches and dinners). The opportunities to connect with other researchers and the academic community in a global context were of great value for getting acquainted with different perspectives within this vision science community, and dialogues to stimulate innovative ideas.

As Perceptual Intelligence Lab we also presented a demo at the Phenomenal Vision Night, namely ‘colour effects in natural light fields’. We showed that cast shadows can be coloured due to lighting from a source with a much lower luminance and more diffuse spatial distribution than the shadow-casting source. This happens for instance on a sunny day with a blue sky, causing shadows to be blueish. We demonstrated this effect both subtly and theatrically. General public as well as scientists were attracted by the strong visual effects in such a simple setup. The theory and effects can also be observed in nature. We demonstrated the effects more dramatically. Hopefully, people who have joined this demo will find it fun to observe and recognise the effects in nature. As the famous football player Johan Cruyff once said “Je gaat het pas zien als je het doorhebt,” that is, “You will only see it once you understand it”.

Visual Science of Art Conference 2019

Written by Jacob Cheeseman

As someone who considers himself a scientist first, and an artist second, I came to the Visual Science of Art Conference (VSAC) 2019 with keen interest. The meeting aims to enhance our scientific understanding of how visual artists depict the world, and to further communication between fields that, while traditionally divided within academia, share a passion for seeing.
This year we were gathered in Leuven, Belgium, a city that could well have the perfect balance of culture and functionality. And the opening reception was held at the Stadhuis, an absolutely gorgeous example of 15th-century gothic architecture. Our group was welcomed in this grand hall by no less than the mayor of Leuven, Mohamed Ridouani, whose presence signified how this alliance of art and science has strengthened both communities.

Stadhuis van Leuven

The content of the meeting spanned a range of diverse topics, including the visual perception of material properties, empirical aesthetics, and historical studies of rendering techniques. There was also no shortage of visual art—the work of Maaike Schoorel being a notable example. Working from reference photographs of real scenes, she paints a kind of phantasmic representation of the original image, accentuating only the critical lines and shading that suggest the underlying forms. The effect is to break any photographic constraints on interpretation, and to allow each viewer to project their own imagery onto the canvas.

Maaike Schoorel, Oranje Boterbloemen (Orange Buttercups), oil on canvas, 2011

The work I presented at the conference also deals with visual ambiguity, specifically the kind that depends on how we estimate distances in photographs. In everyday circumstances, our ability to identify surface material properties is effortless and automatic, but occasionally this ability can be challenged, especially when the visual pattern impedes a reliable estimation of distance. This can be seen in aerial photographs of planted fields, which can appear strikingly similar to woven fabric or textile. The pattern of light does not specify which interpretation is correct, and so our interpretations reveal what distances we have learned to associate with such images.

Jacob R. Cheeseman, Hunting for Ambiguity, photograph, 2018

In Jan Koenderink’s latest book, The Way of The Eye, he frames visual perception as a process of continually questioning our interpretations of images. Our first impression of what we are looking at is usually quite convincing, but if we relax our focus, other impressions enter into view. Surrealist painters like Dali seem to possess a supernatural talent for imagining multiple interpretations simultaneously, but how to compose photographs with this property strikes me as a slightly different, and perhaps more difficult task. When I asked Dr. Koenderink how one could compose such images, he suggested that it was a matter of attentional training.

To this end, I once spent a sunny afternoon in Giessen wandering around with my camera, hunting for ambiguous scenes. Although my perception of each scene was stable, by meditating on the question, “What else could this be?”, I began to see hints of possibility. By the end of that day I had hundreds of images, but not a clue whether any of them had captured what I had seen, or whether others would agree with my interpretations. One of my basic goals at VSAC was therefore to discuss this way of seeing with visual artists who play with ambiguity.

My line of questioning went something like this: “How does one compose images with multiple interpretations? While creating visual art, are you trying to reduce disparity between a mental image and a perceived image? Does one interpretation serve as the foundation for subsequent layers?” The answers I received to these questions were also rather ambiguous, which could mean that these are not the right questions, or that I am not ready for the answers. Maybe by the time this discussion resumes at next year’s meeting, I will be.

International Colour Vision Society Meeting 2019

Written by Ruben Pastilha

The International Colour Vision Society (ICVS) is an international group of physiologists, psychologists, physicists, geneticists, optometrists, ophthalmologists and visual scientists who have a research interest in the many aspects of colour vision and colour vision deficiencies.

Ruben Pastilha presenting his paper at the ICVS 2019

This years meeting was held in Riga, Latvia and I have been fortunate enough to win the runner-up Talk Prize.

I presented my paper on The Temporal Dynamics of Daylight: Speed Limits on Perception. Relatively little is known about human sensitivity to changes in illumination spectra over time. We have been interested in the temporal dynamics and speed limits of illumination change perception, in particular, for daylight changes. People are aware that outdoor illumination varies in chromaticity throughout the day, yet we don’t seem to directly perceive these changes while they occur. Using psychophysical testing with daylight metamers in an immersive illumination setting we found that, for 21 participants, the minimum detectable speed of chromaticity change is on average about 20 times larger than the fastest changes usually occurring in natural daylight. In addition, we found that changes in illumination chromaticity towards a neutral reference are hardest to detect, for non-neutral adaptation lights. This supports the notion that the brain encodes a neutral-daylight illumination prior.

Ruben presenting at ICVS 2019

World Haptics Conference 2019

Written by Muge Cavdan

World Haptics Conference 2019 (WHC) was the first major conference that I attend to in haptics. I was super excited to see all other works in my field. Since it is not only research but also applied field-oriented conference, I saw a lot of applications of the pure research.

First day of WHC 2019’s schedule is only included workshops. A total of 5 workshops held on current topics in haptics. I had a chance to attend “Softness Perception” which is directly related to my work. My supervisor Prof. Dr. Knut Drewing also had a talk entitled “Different Dimensions of Softness and Their Associated Exploratory Procedures” in this session.

Prof. Knut Drewing giving his talk about Different Dimensions of Softness and Their Associated Exploratory Procedures.

On the other days, talks, demonstrations, posters, & discussion sessions took place. There was a great environment in which you could have the opportunity to get involve in demonstrations and talk to people from different companies and universities during breaks or discussion sessions.

Demonstration session from 3rd day

All in all, throughout my Tokyo visit I got involved in a very different culture, met a lot of people from both industry and research, and most importantly learned how limitless what I can do in research. I would like to thank my supervisors Prof. Dr. Knut Drewing & Dr. Katja Doerschner for their support during my WHC 2019 paper submission and talk preparation.

Science and Industry Museum – Manchester

There is a plethora of benefits in having industry partners involved. The vast amounts of knowledge and hands on experience that can be accessed during the duration of the project.

Working with the Science Museum Group means that our ESRs have access not just to the wealth of knowledge at their secondment institutions but the ability to visit other museums across the UK. Ellen De Korte, currently doing her secondment at the Science and Media Museum in Bradford, visited the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester.

Science and Industry Museum show

The museum, opened in 1983, is dedicated to the development of science, technology and industry with emphasis on the city’s achievements in these fields.

Inside of the Science and Industry Museum