E’ nato a Roma nel 1934, è un noto studioso della percezione acustica e visiva; si occupa altresì di Neuroscienze e di problemi cognitivi connessi col disegno infantile. Già ricercatore presso il C.N.R. (nell’istituto di Cibernetica e Biofisica), è da anni invitato come visiting professor presso Università e Istituti di Ricerca in Italia e all’estero (Università di Toronto e Philadelphia). Insegna presso il Politecnico di Milano Bovisa, Facoltà di Industrial Design, e all’Accademia di Belle Arti di Urbino. È stato assessore alla cultura per il Comune di Genova dal 1997 al 2002. Al momento è visiting professor presso la University of Western Ontario (Canada). Vive a Genova.
Ruggero Pierantoni, 1934, expert on acoustic and visual perception, his field is neuroscience and cognitive problems. He has worked for the CNR, has taught and participated in research programmes in Germany, the USA and Canada. He is Visiting Professor at the School of Architecture, Carleton University, Ottawa. He has taught at the Politecnico di Milano Bovisa, and the Accademia di Belle Arti, Urbino. He was cultural councillor for the Comune di Genova from 1997 to 2002. He has written: L’occhio e l’idea. Fisiologia e storia della visione (1981); Forma fluens (1986); Monologo sulle stelle: forme della luce dalle origini alle fini dei mondi antichi (1994) for Bollati Boringhieri; La trottola di Prometeo. Introduzione alla percezione acustica e visiva (Laterza, 1996), Verità a bassissima definizione. Critica e percezione del quotidiano (Einaudi, 1998); Vortici, atomi e sirene. Immagini e forme del pensiero esatto (Electa Mondadori, 2003). Rosellina Archinto Editore are about to publish his latest book.
Tutors: Gennaro Lopez, Cosimo Monteleone
Light-matter vs light-materials interactions
The workshop intends to enter into a complicated maze: the physical and phenomenological exploration of the interaction between light and the architectural objects. A first distinction must be drawn between the “light- matter” and the “ light materials” interactions.
The first events are pertinent to physics, optics, thermodynamics and solid matter domain. The interactions between photons and “ matter” are events located into the very core of an object and they deal in substance with atomic and sub-atomic energy exchange between the impinging photon and the “local” atoms or molecules.
The second events are pertinent to a broader and more multifarious group of disciplines: visual perception, general psychology, surface technologies and, ultimately, linguistics in general. These class of events have a more “superficial” site of operation. The laws ruling the nature and course of these events are dealing more strictly with geometry of surfaces than with atom structures and their spatial arrangements. The architect, in theory, should pay the very same attention to both classes of phenomena but, by necessity , the first group, the Light-matter interactions, are approachable only by persons equipped with solid knowledge of non obvious mathematics, and physics. Fortunately enough, the common phenomenology of the events which take place at the “contact” between light and “materials” is so rich as to compensate the relative scarcity of rigour and quantitative treatments so necessary in the parallel class of events. Besides, our common visual experience very often overlooks one enormous variety of events and a practically infinity of visual “configurations” are lost to the active conscience. In order to recuperate this “lost visual world” we need only a bit of patience, a bit of concentration and a quiet attitude. And, mainly, to draw by hand the objects under observation.
But the very act of manual drawing could be doomed to nothing if the “circumstantial evidences” will be ignored or overlooked or passed un-noticed. To draw it is a quasi meaningless activity unless all the surrounding photic ecosystem is brought under scrutiny, attention and control.
Before proceeding to more factual data and intentions, few words upon the common professional practice of digital rendering are quite necessary, in my opinion, at least. Very often, the rendering of an illuminated surface, even if generated by a very sophisticated (and costly) software, procures intimate and private dissatisfactions. In general, we feel a deep gap between the simulated surface and the so called “reality”.
The main reason is that, even the most elegant softwares intended to simulate illuminated surfaces are based upon an enormously simplified physics which restricts itself only to the most superficial and elementary events. The “real” events which made an illuminated surface commonly visible are pertinent to atomic and sub-atomic events which, by obvious necessity cannot be simulated with a reasonably “light” software. They are the events which made the nature of a light scattered by a surface such a complicated business. CAD solutions tend, for obvious reasons, to deal more with geometrical facts than with energy transfers. The visual results, at the screen are perceptually very unsatisfactory.
But, we are equipped with an organ of superior sophistication, the eye, more than able to make us conscious of an immense variety of visual experiences and explorations.
The only thing to do is to sit down and draw.
But, again, the pure act of drawing it is not imbued, “per se”, of any particular magic or superior possibilities and meanings. It must be supported, and strongly so, by a solid, even if simple, knowledge of elementary optics, physics ed experimental ability.
This considered, the following page will try to illuminate upon the practical procedures I intend to follow into my workshop.
The meetings with the Students will be of two distinct categories: Theoretical Lectures and Practical Demonstrations.
The explicit goal of such meetings is to made the Student aware of the main facts in Optics.
The classical didactic sequence will be followed: reflection- refraction-interference – scattering and diffusion. The mathematical treatment of the data will be reduced to a minimum, but not eliminated. This didactic solution is made possible by the fact that a simple mathematical treatment is necessary to give a satisfying presentation of many fundamental optical phenomena.
Refraction, reflection, scattering( up to a certain complexity) is decently analysed by linear-first order equations.
A series of materials will be inquired : stone, marble, bronze, copper, iron, concrete etc. A series of practical exercises will deal with transparent and refractive materials: glass, crystal, plexiglass, resins, in general. The Student will be invited to familiarize with the proposed material and to understand its optical properties in function of its geometrical shape and the illumination conditions. I maintain that the University workshop will lend us samples of some of the materials I would like to illustrate.
A very emotional and culturally rich experience is to “measure” something”. In our case, we will measure the light scattered, by architectural objects: walls, columns, arches. A necessary tool is a Photometer equipped with a “cannocchiale”. The firm Tektronix has in production a marvellous instrument of this sort Now available with interfacing softwares to access to a field-comp, or lap-top. With this instrument it is possible to select visually an architectural object, even at great distances and to measure in “lumens” or other photometrical units, the back-scattered light by a selected area of 1° subtended angle.
The use of this instrument gives an intense sense of intellectual satisfaction and generates physical data of exquisite interest and broad applications.
See you soon above or under the rialto bridge and do not forget your photometer!!!!!!!!!!!!