How evolution tints our perception

Beau Lotto’s color games puzzle our vision, but they also spotlight what we can’t normally see: how our brain works. This fun, first-hand look at our own versatile sense of sight reveals how evolution tints our perception of what’s really out there.

“Let there be perception,” was evolution’s proclamation, and so it was that all creatures, from honeybees to humans, came to see the world not as it is, but as was most useful. This uncomfortable place where what an organism’s brain sees diverges from what is actually out there is what Beau Lotto explores through his dazzling art-sci experiments and public illusions.

His Bee Matrix installation, for example, places a live bee in a transparent enclosure where gallerygoers may watch it seek nectar in a virtual meadow of luminous Plexiglas flowers. Bees, Lotto will tell you, see colors much like we humans do.  The most engaging part of this talk is Lotto’s obvious enthusiasm for his topic and how that, in turn, captures his audience.