Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Mason Cummings Humanities and Social Science

Inner Vision: The Role of Entoptics in the Artwork of Piet Mondrian

The visual field of the human eye is not limited to external objects, but instead includes visible effects which arise from within the optical system itself, otherwise known as entoptics. One may be familiar with entoptics in the form of floaters or migraine auras, as well as the field of changing colors and shapes borne of gentle pressure applied to the back of shut eyelids. Through research on the human optical system, the basic morphological components of these visual phenomena have been classified into a set of primarily geometric forms. Because the paintings of Piet Mondrian are geometrically minimalist themselves, they carry a strong resemblance to these forms, making his works suited to an analysis based around entoptics. In the past, such an approach has been used in the examination of prehistoric cave painting, but it has yet to find application in modern artworks. Thus, by investigating the entoptic presence in the paintings of Mondrian, I hope to demonstrate the wider applicability of entoptics in art historical analysis, as well as provide greater support for neurophysiological models of image making.

Message To Sponsor

Dear Anselm Fund, Thank you so much for giving me the resources to pursue my academic passions. The funds you provided helped me conduct my first experience of fieldwork in New York City this summer, and I will remember the experience for the rest of my lifetime. I was able to explore the collections of many major New York museums, and had deeply profound aesthetic experiences in front of artworks by masters new and old. By conducting research with the SURF program, I gained valuable skills that will be invaluable for my future career in academia, including independent research methods and public speaking practice. I now feel even more committed to my plan to pursue a PhD in the field of art history, as my experience this summer confirmed my deep passion for the study of art and visual culture. The confidence in my ability to conduct independent fieldwork outside of the institutional guidance of a professor was greatly improved by this experience. Additionally, I overcame a major hurdle in my anxiety of public speaking, because the fun I had at the SURF conference has actually made me excited to conduct future academic presentations. For all these things I am unendingly grateful.
Profile image of Mason Cummings
Major: Art History
Mentor: Whitney Davis
Sponsor: Anselm L&S
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