How Science Applies to Art: New Master's Program to be Launched

ITMO University in alliance with the University of Arizona (UA) is going to launch an Art & Science Double Degree Program for Master`s students in 2017. The unique program aims at combining humanitarian and technical disciplines. The famous physician Charles Falco came to St. Petersburg to discuss the details with Russian colleagues. In his open lecture professor Falco also talked about how to apply optical inventions for art purposes.

The first step toward the new Program was made at EAIE-2015, Europe's largest international higher education conference, at which Daria Kozlova, Vice Rector for International Relations of ITMO University, discussed the outlooks for Art & Science track with Mike Proctor, vice president of the University of Arizona Office Of Global Initiatives. The officials continued the discussion in mid-April when Charles Falco, professor of Optical Sciences and Physics at the University of Arizona and his colleague Masud Mansuripur, professor of Optical Sciences, the  University of Arizona, College of Optical Sciences, came to St. Petersburg to meet with Russian stakeholders of the Master`s Program.

The graduates of the new program will receive all required knowledge and experience in research, analyzing, conservation and even creation of masterpieces. The future specialists will serve at museums, art centers and institutions providing development and application of new technologies for art`s sake.

Charles Falco gives lecture at ITMO University

The representatives of the University of Arizona underlined that at the meeting both parties exchanged their views and solved overriding issues connected with organization, studying and support.

“ITMO is globally known as one of the leading optical Universities. We appreciate professional activities of its` alumni and researchers, that is why we are interested in collaboration with ITMO`s experts. It is planned to launch a unique practical-oriented program for Master`s students. Now it is difficult to describe what kinds of projects will be included into the program. It is not typical for researchers to apply achievements in photonics and laser technology for analyzing art objects. Thanks to this new area we can offer students various research directions,” noted professor Falco.

According to Mr. Mansuripur, the same programs developed by the University of Arizona include not only humanitarian disciplines like art history, but also fundamental optics. It gives them an opportunity to deal with a plenty of scientific fields.

While staying in St. Petersburg Charles Falco also gave a lecture at ITMO University. The professor commented on the interaction of science and art as well as talked about the applications of optics for studying and conserving of masterpieces. It was the second time when Mr. Falco presented the results of his research in St. Petersburg. Last year the professor made a speech at the open session of the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies.

Professor Chalres Falco, professor Masud Mansuripur, Daria Kozlova

Charles Falco together with David Hockney, famous painter and photographer, discovered scientific evidence in ancient paintings. According to Hockney–Falco thesis, lots of medieval artists created their realistic paintings with the aid of optical projections. The experts also published the book called “Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters” in which analyzed the works painted by Old masters. The researchers claimed that it was impossible to create hyper realistic paintings without using optical instruments such as the camera obscura and convex mirrors. It is known that masterpieces were painted during the short periods of time but the artists managed to make very accurate images of small details like clothes tucks and patches of light. Moreover the researchers discovered that most of artists made some objects on their pictures blurred while others were extremely clear as if they made a photo.

Charles Falco and David Hockney continue to research other aspects of this field. Using the modern optical technologies and techniques one can also invent or improve conservation methods, ways of identifying fake objects of art and other ones. All these aspects will be included into the new Master`s program. 

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