Assignment #2 - illustration
Due Tuesday, February 10 (in class)
CS 99D - The Science of Art
Winter Quarter, 1998
Your second assignment is to write a 3-4 page double-spaced paper on one of the
topics listed in the first two sections below. Alternatively, you may do the
project described in the last section. However, if you did a project for the
last assignment, you must write a paper for this one. You may also choose
another topic or project if you clear it with me in advance.
The format and rules for this assignment are the same as in the first one. In
my absence next week, Lucas will handle the selection of four of you to present
your ideas in class on the due date.
Topics drawn from the required readings and from class discussions
What does Thomas Kuhn think of puzzle-solvers? Can one talk about aesthetics
or taste in scientific work? If so, then what is society's current taste? Do
we prefer puzzle-solvers or paradigm-breakers? Defend your thesis.
Kuhn compares scientists operating within a paradigm to tradespeople (p. 43).
The Renaissance lifted the artist out of the ranks of tradespeople. Is such a
transformation possible within the confines of "normal science"? Is it
Compare revolution in science with revolution in art. Are there paradigms?
Are there equivalents of "normal science" and "extraordinary science"? If so,
what are their characteristics?
Leonardo, in the sections of On Painting devoted to the human body,
gives advice on nearly every aspect of the depiction of people in paintings.
How dependent is this advice on the artistic tastes of the Renaissance? His
advice on draperies is obviously less relevant now than when he wrote it. How
about his advice on pose? On expression? On proportion?
Topics involving readings from the bibliography or additional research
Among the many genres of illustration, we considered only a few in class:
anatomy and landscape. Trace the historical development of a genre that we did
not cover. Examples are botonical illustration, zoological illustration,
engineering drawings, mathematical diagrams, the visualization of economic or
demographic data, or mapmapping. Within your chosen genre, try to move beyond
merely cataloguing the highlights of its history. What are the special
problems of illustrating your chosen object? How have illustrators addressed
the questions of generic versus specific, and of diagrammatic versus
naturalistic? What are the abstractions they employ, and how have these
changed over time? For ideas, look at Ford's Images of Science,
Stafford's Artful Science, or Baynes and Pugh's The Art of the
Engineer. All of these are on reserve.
Among the Renaissance artists who performed their own dissections and applied
this knowledge to their art, none had a greater impact on the artistic taste of
subsequent generations than Michelangelo. Trace the development of
Michelangelo's portrayal of the male nude, considering both anatomical and
aesthetic viewpoints, and enumerate some of the ways, well documented by his
biographers, that his command of anatomy and his ideal of male beauty affected
the artists who followed him. You should start by reading Vasari's short and
classic "Life of Michelangelo" in his Lives of the Artists. Then you
might browse Hibbard's longer but more modern Michelangelo. Both are
on reserve in the library. You might also enjoy reading Irving Stone's The
Agony and the Ecstacy, but be careful - this is historical fiction, not
A non-writing project
Create a illustration, either by hand or using a computer, that conveys
in abstracted form some poorly understood aspect of Stanford
University or the Stanford campus. For example, if you like maps, make a
series that depicts the density of bicycle traffic and bicycle parking
throughout the campus, or the point-to-point transit paths taken by students at
different hours of the day. This will require some empirical data gathering on
your part. If you are interested in architecture, make a series of drawings
that analyzes (not merely depicts) the old quadrangle: its monumental
axes, progression of spaces, hierarchy of buildings, and vocabulary of details.
By the way, the bookstore has several books on the architecture of the Stanford
campus. This project is a chance to be creative, but it will require some
thought. Look at Tufte's beautiful books on data visualization, especially the
classic The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, for
Copyright © 1998 Marc Levoy
Friday, 20-Feb-1998 13:47:05 PST