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Current time:0:00Total duration:4:35

Video transcript

what am I looking at you're looking at an ad Reinhardt called abstract painting it dates to 1916 is called abstract painting exactly I see I guess first tell me what I'm not because you know sometimes these paintings that look like they're just one color because we're looking at a computer's being if I were to go to the museum it's at the MoMA there's a version of this there's a version of okay so so what would I see if I were able to go closer to space or is it literally just like this navy blue color so you walk up to the painting in the museum and there is some distortion here it would be more of a flat black when you first walked up to it oh it's actually closer to black it's a closer to a kind of flat but it has a little bit of blue in it that's why we're getting right exactly when you first walked up to the painting you would actually see a perfect square of black and that's it no differentiation whatsoever and you would likely or most people would then after a few moments walk on because that's what people do in museums before we get into any context and I don't know the context on this so this goes back to the principle of a painting standing by itself versus the context making it more interesting perhaps so just this by itself yes it's a big square of black it is interesting that it's there at the museum that someone chose to give it that recognition based on what I do know it seems like also this has been done before I mean we looked at Malevich his motivations might have been very different but he had you know white on white so with that said this painting doesn't seem just on its own to do a lot right and in fact this is a perfect example of a painting that really annoys people that makes people feel like they have been hoodwinked yes their time and the precious wall space has been badly spent yes but in fact ed Reinhardt is doing something pretty sophisticated I think if you had decided not to walk off if you had decided to spend some time thinking about why in the world somebody would put this perfect square of black on the wall in the museum you would actually start to question what you were seeing because as you stare at it you begin to wonder whether or not you're seeing something but wait it's not there but and then wait because there is this sort of process that takes place and it takes your eye few minutes of really concerted looking to start to see what is there fair enough but I feel like that happens with a lot of things that if you really observe anything not not even something that someone has told you is a work of art you know I have this guitar sitting behind us if I really start to stare that guitar I start to see new things so I feel like that's almost true of anything especially a big chunk of color fair enough and I think you're right if we decide to pay attention to just about anything we can enrich its meaning but here's something in the world whose purpose is that its purpose is not something else and it is the artist asking us to really pay attention and he does reward us when you start to look at this closely you start to see that there are in fact nine squares here this is a grid and the squares are subtle and different colors it's just on the edge of perception though even as you're recognizing this you question whether or not what you're seeing is really there no you're right I mean I can barely see it on the computer and so that yeah that is interesting Society of creating things on the edge of perception so then take this another level think about this as your eye getting used to this it's not just your mind being focused enough to perceive it but your eye is actually adjusting your pupils are dilating to be able to bring that light in that very subtle difference in so this is painting that is working with the biology of our body the biology of sight not just the perceptual qualities that are intellectual but actually the physical qualities of sight so I'll push back another dimension because I'm trying to really like this painting this I think belongs in a science museum you know in those science museums you have these things like how high of the thing can you hear what can you perceive and that's what this is doing I mean when you look at this painting you see just a big wall of black you spend a little time on it your pupils dilate and all of a sudden you capture more light you start to see the shade differences in terms of its pure perceptual quality yes but it's also a part of the ongoing discussion of what art should be now in the mid 20th century I'm not a hundred percent there but I'm starting to appreciate the the why you