We are beyond grateful to Professor Huseyin Boyaci and his team at the University of Bilkent not just for organising an event to host the consortium but for choosing such a fascinating location like Cappadocia.
Cappadocia holds wonder everywhere you look. From the carved layers of volcanic tufa, shaped by wind and water that are the fairy chimneys to the beautiful fertile lands of the Pigeon Valley, strewn with orchards and grapevines. Wondering up to Uchisar Castle, imposing and dividing in opinion.
All the while, Mount Erciyes is looming in the distance, a snow covered giant. All this landscape is mixed within a historical region that was a melting pot of cultures and beliefs, from ancient Hatti culture to Romans and Christians.
All DyViTo members are looking forward to learning more about this beautiful and magical region. Although we have a very busy week with some of the best speakers in the field attending hosted at the Argos Hotel, there is always time for tea.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
It is two more weeks until the Bradford
Science Festival. My collection of objects is now complete and the
preparation of my text and study material is almost done. In the meantime, I
have also become a STEM-ambassador.
STEM is an acronym for the combined subjects of Science Technology Engineering
and Mathematics. A STEM-ambassador is a volunteer who promotes those subjects
in various ways. This can include demonstrations at schools, but it means you
can also work with teachers in promoting STEM in schools.
As my research topic is part of psychology, it may seem a
bit odd that I have become a STEM-ambassador. Yet, there is quite a bit of STEM
involved in my job. For example, if I set up a typical experiment, I have to
display the materials I want to show on a computer. Not only is the computer itself
an obvious piece of STEM, but the images of materials involve quite a bit of
mathematics. For a computer an image is a big table of numbers that represent
image colours. Unfortunately, computer monitors do not always display the right
colour if you give them a specific number. This means that I have to check the
colours that my monitor displays with a special device. On top of that, I have
to pay attention to the lighting of the materials I use, because this
influences the look of materials as well. These little things involve physics
and mathematics (light and the transformation of numbers in light to get
colours) and this is not even the data collection and analysis yet (there is a
lot of mathematics involved in the latter).
I will not bother you any further with the biology that is
involved in my subject, because I have to understand the workings of the eye
and the brain as well. Or how our research findings might be used for design of
materials (engineering). All I hope, is that it has become clear that STEM is a
big part of my job and our daily lives.
“One’s ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret Nature” ― Arthur Conan Doyle
the chronicles of my adventures during my secondment at the Department of
Psychology, University of Southampton, under the supervision of Prof. Wendy Adams
and Prof. Marc Ernst.
Objectives of the trip:
Gain an understanding
of the interaction between illumination and material perception, including
analysis of spherical high dynamic range natural illumination environments.
Gain experience of
working in a Psychology department in another EU country.
To begin at the beginning, I was excited to
work with Wendy and to be exposed to the cool research she does on material
perception, illumination environments and rendering virtual objects. I had also never been to the UK, and was eager
to get a glimpse of that part of the world.
The plan was twofold; first, I would conduct a
pilot study on the interaction between illumination and gloss and how gloss
might affect the way we manipulate a physical object. At the same time, I would
try to learn as much as possible on rendering virtual objects in natural illumination
environments and learn the statistics involved.
After a short trip to a metal supermarket, we got
some nice aluminum box pipes which we would use as our physical stimuli. The
main question we were seeking to address with these physical objects is whether
their glossiness affects the way people handle them. This is in line with
previous studies looking at the relationship between gloss and touch (Kerrigan,
Adams, & Graf, 2010 ; Adams, Kerrigan & Graf, 2016).
Once the objects were cleaned and nicely
polished, we started testing out a suitable experimental setup. This proved
more challenging than expected due to the unpredictable nature of natural
lighting. In order to get the desired outcome, we really had to control the
angle and intensity of illumination so using natural lighting was out of the
question. We also tested various coatings to get the objects to be as glossy as
possible. Currently, we have made some tweaks to the set up and we are in the
process of data collection; so more info coming soon.
On the side and as a secondary objective, I
began learning the basics of Blender to generate
virtual objects and to import them as .obj files into Octane Render.
Octane is fast rendering engine which allows for easy manipulation of minute elements
which make up a scene, e.g. material qualities an object might possess and how those
certain qualities (e.g. surface reflectance) interact with light. Once we had
set those parameters, we placed them in a natural illumination environment and
got something that looked like this:
conclude, I’d like to thank Wendy, Marc and Erich for their continuous support
during my stay and also Davide and Paul for helping me with the setup. I’d also
like to say a big thanks to everyone I had the good fortune of meeting at the
Department of Psychology in Soton; for showing me around town and volunteering
to participate in the experiment. Looking forward to seeing you all again soon.