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Expert in Computer Analysis of Art Will Give Ithaca College C.P. Snow Lecture

ITHACA, NY — New computer methods are being used to shed light on a number of recent controversies in the world of art. For example, fractal analysis has cast doubt on the authenticity of a cache of paintings attributed to Jackson Pollock, while an international group of computer and image scientists is studying the brushstrokes in paintings by van Gogh to detect forgeries. What can computers reveal about images that even the best-trained connoisseurs, art historians and artists cannot?

An expert on the topic will tell — and show — how computer image analysis is changing our understanding of art in a free public talk at Ithaca College on Thursday, April 14. David G. Stork will present “When Computers Look at Art: Image Analysis in Humanistic Studies of the Visual Arts” at 7 p.m. in Textor 102. You may never see paintings the same way again after this lecture, which will be profusely illustrated with works by Pollock, van Gogh, Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, Lorenzo Lotto and others.

Stork is currently chief scientist with Ricoh Innovations, a Silicon Valley–based subsidiary of the global electronics and office equipment company that works with business consumers to conduct research and develop effective strategies for improving how people interact with information. His books include “Seeing the Light: Optics in Nature, Photography, Color, Vision and Holography,” “Speechreading by Humans and Machines” and “HAL’s Legacy: 2001’s Computer as Dream and Reality,” which served as the basis for a PBS television documentary.

Stork has taught at a number of universities, and the breadth of his interests and contributions is perhaps best understood through the academic departments and programs in which he has served: physics, mathematics, electrical engineering, statistics, computer science, neuroscience, psychology, and art and art history. He was named a Fellow of the International Association for Pattern Recognition, “for contributions to pattern recognition education, machine learning, speech recognition and the application of computer vision to the study of art.”

Among the major museums at which Stock has made scholarly presentations are the Louvre, National Gallery in London, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art and Van Gogh Museum. He was one of four scientists invited to comment at the 2001 Art and Optics Symposium on David Hockney’s bold theory that some early Renaissance painters used optical devices such as concave mirrors to project images onto their canvases.

The presentation is sponsored by the C. P. Snow Lecture Series, named after the late British physicist and novelist Sir Charles Percy Snow, who was dedicated to bridging the gap between the sciences and the humanities. The series debuted in the School of Humanities and Sciences in 1964, and Snow was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree from the college in 1967.

For more information, visit /hs/events/series/cpsnow/.