TEDx Cooper Union: Ryan and Trevor Oakes (A'04)

September 26, 2012

Ryan and Trevor Oakes (A’04), twin brothers and graduates of the School of Art, gave a talk at TEDx Cooper Union earlier this year on human vision and drawing. Most of the countless images that exist and circulate in our world are flat and two-dimensional, the two artists explained, yet our vision is not. With two eyes, many of us see the world in a spherical formation, looking out in spherical scope. The light that enters our eyes comes through in what is known as an arrayed formation—a portion of a sphere that accepts light coming from many different angles. This is a truth that has animated the work of brothers who create sculpture and drawing exploring the delicate subtleties and caveats of human perception and the way that it relates to consciousness. In their TEDx talk, the Colorado-born duo explained the fundamentals of human vision and the way they have explored its relation to drawing and art making.

"If you’re going to set out to make a rendering of your visual reality—that is, if you were going to insert a picture plane between yourself and that reality—it makes more sense if the picture plane is spherical rather than flat," argues Ryan Oakes in his talk. He goes on to advocate for an evolution of drawing that takes the shape of human vision into consideration. The work he does with his brother, on the other hand, speaks for itself. In the talk above, see how the artists are innovating in drawing technique and practice, creating spherical renderings in the context of a world that seems increasingly driven toward innovative approaches to visual interface design.

You can see all of the TEDx Cooper Union talks on Youtube.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.