Vis 2008 Keynote

The keynote has started – my EYES! – I can’t see that title. Ok, the red-blue glasses help, so that’s a hint.

Margaret Livingstone is a neurobiologist at Harvard – this should be interesting. I have to say I love the Vis keynotes, exactly because they come from different fields. I still remember Felice Frankel’s keynote in 2005. Dr. Livingstone started with the always amazing reminder that projectors can’t project black, but we see black lines just fine. The overlaid grid of lines example – another good one. Main point: low-level vision is already processing information – it does not transmit images.

She’s now talking about dynamic range compression. From neurobiology to computer graphics in 20 seconds. From Kylie Minogue to the Virgin Mary in 10 seconds. I like this talk’s rhythm. “Colors are only symbols – reality is to be found in luminance alone” – Pablo Picasso. Will someone think of the colorblind children?

“Neurobiology has evolved a lot since world war 2, with fast bullets that destroy a small part of the brain without killing the subject” – ouch. Now she’s showing drawings of patients with lesions in the dorsal stream – where people get the small-scale details right, but the positions completely wrong, like drawing a cross where the two bars do not overlap, or a clock where the numbers are outside the outline. Go windows hibernate, we just got a second impromptu break.

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