Seeing, perception focus of James Elkins talk at BGSU

BOWLING GREEN, O.—When a human and a lion look out over a landscape, or view an antelope, do they see the same things? How do they each interpret what they see?

Art historian James Elkins is fascinated by the nature of seeing and perception and has written extensively on the topic. He will share some of his thoughts in a free talk at Bowling Green State University called “How to Use Your Eyes, and How Some Animals Use Their Eyes." It will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 22 in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts.

Elkins has long been interested in how we can improve our ability to see, whether looking at art or the world around us, as he discussed in his book “How to Use Your Eyes” (2000). His BGSU talk will survey different kinds of human “seeing” and what they might mean, such as our tendency to recognize patterns and ascribe meaning to them. He will also discuss the relevance of the ways in which some animals see to human perception, and share some of the exercises from “How to Use Your Eyes.”

His residency is part of the newly established Edwin H. Simmons Creative Minds Series. Funded by a private donation, the series is intended to elevate the importance of the arts in our everyday lives. Following his evening talk, Elkins will work with students on Oct. 23.

A leader in the visual literacy movement and a professor in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Art History, Theory and Criticism, Elkins’ writing focuses on the history and theory of images in art, science and nature. Some of his books are exclusively on fine art (“What Painting Is,” “Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles?”). Others include scientific and non-art images, writing systems, and archaeology (“The Domain of Images,” “On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them”), and some are about natural history (“How to Use Your Eyes”).