Book Review: "Fine Art and Perceptual Neuroscience: Field of Vision and the Painted Grid" by Paul M.W. Hackett
By Jessica Herrington
The last decade has seen something of a boom in the publication of books dedicated to both art and science. Recent scientific authors such as Margaret Livingston and Semir Zeki are being swiftly added to artists’ reading lists. Paul Hackett’s recent publication Fine Art and Perceptual Neuroscience: Field of Vision and the Painted Grid is no exception and makes a welcome addition to publications on art and science.
Fine Art and Perceptual Neuroscience differs in that it does not provide a strictly objective view on art and science. Accordingly, while Hackett is both a psychologist and an artist, he primarily writes about his artwork in the first person as an artist. Hackett takes an introspective approach, describing his own experience of diplopia (double vision) and how this influences his art making.
The book begins by taking the reader through the basics of how vision works, before moving on to discuss Gestalt psychology and its relation to painting. In particular, Hackett focuses on well-known modernist and contemporary painters who specialize in painting grid-based works. The grid itself is a mechanism that Hackett uses in his own paintings to understand his diplopia.
Fine Art and Perceptual Neuroscience can be considered something of a guide for artists interested in developing a science-based studio practice. It demonstrates the breadth of research that an artist can undertake when incorporating scientific findings into art works. This book will also be of interest to those outside the visual arts, as Hackett makes reference to art historians, philosophers, and cognitive neuroscientists alike.
Fine Art and Perceptual Neuroscience: Field of Vision and the Painted Grid can be purchased online: