Intelligence Squared: Black Space Of Abstract Thinking. Part 3

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Intelligence Squared: Black Space Of Abstract Thinking. Part 3
Intelligence Squared: Black Space Of Abstract Thinking. Part 3
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Video: Why are we so smart? The origins of abstract thought. 2023, February

Intelligence squared: black space of abstract thinking. Part 3

The entire creative path of Malevich is a powerful sound desire to break through the edge of physical reality. Abstract intellect pushed the artist to a deep search, to the desire to go behind the screen of the visible and tangible, to penetrate the essence of things …

End of painting: black and white. Part 1

Black Square: Believe or Know? Part 2

In 1927, Kazimir Malevich took about a hundred of his works to a personal exhibition in Warsaw, and then to Berlin. Suddenly the artist was recalled back to the USSR. The works left in Berlin, he could not pick up, as he became restricted to travel abroad. However, he himself soon repeated them. So there are at least four versions of the black square.

Before the picture always meant the original. However, Kazimir Malevich, writing "Black Square" abolished uniqueness as an integral quality of a work of art.

And this was unheard of. The picture being replicated is another paradox, another invention of Malevich's sonic genius. Another of his prophecies.

Hear the future. Painting - in circulation

Today we are not at all surprised by the opportunity to photograph any work of art on a mobile phone, send it to the other end of the world in a second and print it there with practically no loss of quality. At the beginning of the 20th century, no one even thought that the technical means of reproduction and later digital technologies for creating images, endlessly reproducing works of art, would abolish their uniqueness.

Traditionally, a meeting with a work of art was a special sacred experience for the viewer. Looking at a painting meant seeing its original with my own eyes. The technical reproduction of the painting was extremely difficult. Making copies by hand required no less skill than the author, and was impossible in large quantities. Photography and the means of technical reproduction were just beginning to emerge.

The nature of the brushstroke, the peculiarities of the elaboration of the painted surface, the coloristic nuances inherent in this or that artist, created a special aura of the work of art.

Our attitude to a traditional painting always resembles our attitude to an icon or other subject of a religious cult: we perceive it without criticism, because it has a sacred status.

Malevich's Black Square was a work of a new format, almost devoid of uniqueness. The work, losing its aura of authenticity, also loses its sacred status - a kind of special attitude of the viewer to it, reverence, reverence.

Reproduction and any production work does not have this aura. Non-unique things fill and create our life. We do not save them when one thing wears out, we easily replace it with another. We are not separated from the printed work by a cocoon of special perception, we feel ourselves on equal terms with them. Therefore, we fully admit criticism of such works. We will not criticize Mona Lisa, even if we do not like the picture at all, but we may well criticize the picture on the cover of the book.

It is this ease of reproduction of Malevich's Suprematist works that puts the viewer on the same level as the artist, destroying the cocoon of the painting's special status.

Black space abstract thinking photo
Black space abstract thinking photo

And at the end of the 20th - beginning of the 21st century, even the human body will cease to be unique: cellular technologies will allow artificially growing donor organs, create and replace body tissue fragments. Almost a hundred years before these events Malevich allegedly declared with his painting "Black Square": the only thing that does not lend itself to cloning is the human spirit, the artist's thought.

Straight into the future. Black square in your home

The more circulation a work has, the closer it is to the viewer and the stronger its influence on the viewer. Moving from piece to production, the work loses its sacredness, but gains massive influence.

Large circulations allow you to get in touch with a huge number of viewers and have a tremendous impact. Such coverage was not possible in the old days for the traditional picture. A printed work, interacting with a person here and there, constantly actualizes itself. The aura, the special atmosphere that the painting had, has been lost, but the power of the impact increases many times over.

Thus, thanks to the appearance of the "Black Square", circulation becomes a new principle of communication. From that moment on, all the main genres of art affect the viewer en masse. Cinematography and television are becoming the most important.

Mass communication is necessary to create consistency, like-mindedness. Consistency, as a unified nervous system, allows the organism-society to function smoothly without difficulty, exchange information instantly and not create internal conflicts. Mass communications are becoming an alternative to religious cult. They unite, educate, explain, instantly spread the news, which is very important for a huge country. Mass communication technologies - replicated printed images and industrial designs, television, radio and film technologies - received a powerful impetus for development precisely then, in the first decades of the twentieth century. Here is how the contemporary of Malevich, the avant-garde poet, playwright, thinker and culturologist Velimir Khlebnikov, interprets the phenomenon of mass communications in his essay-utopia "Radio of the Future":

“The radio has solved a problem that the church itself did not solve, and it has become as necessary for every village as it is now a school or a reading room.

The task of joining the single soul of mankind, to a single daily spiritual wave sweeping over the country every day, completely irrigating the country with a rain of scientific and artistic news - this task was solved by Radio with the help of lightning. On the huge shadow books of the villages, Radio has printed today the story of a favorite writer, an article on fractional degrees of space, descriptions of flights and news from neighboring countries. Everyone reads what he likes. This book, the same for the whole country, stands in every village, forever in the circle of readers, strictly typed, silent reading room in the villages."

Khlebnikov's arguments about radio, which would create a wave of like-mindedness, would become a common book in which “everyone reads what he likes”, of course, are idealistic. Radio as a media channel, of course, united, created a common information space, but still did not give the degree of involvement that the poet dreamed of. However, about sixty years later, when the computer appeared in every home, the Internet became such a “book”.

Velimir Khlebnikov foresaw his appearance. Just like Kazimir Malevich, with his "Black Square", predicted the era of black displays of electronic devices, which make it possible to endlessly and costlessly broadcast, replicate and store images.

Each in his own field, artists, writers, inventors, engineers of the early twentieth century, created a cultural and scientific breakthrough, a revolution of consciousness. But the life of the whole society changes only when discoveries and inventions concern everyone. That is why all the bright figures of that time paid so much attention to solving everyday problems, one of the criteria for success was the maximum simplicity and availability of reproduction. They have become a new creative credo.

For example, Varvara Stepanova created sketches of fashionable everyday and festive clothes that any woman could create for herself in half an hour from ordinary kitchen towels. Alexander Rodchenko, Lazar Lissitsky together with Vladimir Mayakovsky made advertising posters for goods and services. Mayakovsky wrote advertising slogans, and artists created a visual series for them, it turned out brightly, bitingly, fervently. Poetry and painting - two elite, high genres appeared on the streets of the city and in the homes of ordinary people.

Until now, in St. Petersburg, in the shops of the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory, you can buy the Suprematist set, developed by Malevich and his students in the 1920s.

Not only the attitude to works of art, their perception, but also the role of the artist is gradually changing. A designer is not a handicraftsman who creates unique, piece things, but an engineer, a designer. He creates replicable systems and designs. It influences massively the consciousness of people with color and shape, determines their life and environment. This is what Kazimir Malevich once dreamed of.

The essence of painting is not in the canvas and frame, and not even in the image of the object, just as the essence of man is not in the flesh. The artist's thought is more important than the skill and the way of reproduction. Art can and should be accessible, reproducible and widespread. It was on the basis of these prerequisites, based on the development of Malevich and his associates in the field of formal composition, that a new sociocultural practice began to emerge, which today we call design.

The cosmos of sound reality. Entering open suprematism

In 1903, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky published the first part of the article "Exploration of world spaces by jet devices", where he was the first to substantiate the possibility of flights in the solar space. In this and subsequent works, the scientist laid the foundations of theoretical cosmonautics. His idea was to travel through empty space on a jet propulsion.

The owner of the sound vector, the artist Kazimir Malevich, of course, became interested in his research.

At the beginning of the 20th century, practical cosmonautics did not yet exist and little was known about space. The first flight was made by Yuri Gagarin only on April 12, 1961.

But already in 1916, Kazimir Malevich wrote Suprematist compositions, in which for the first time in the history of art he expresses the state of weightlessness structurally and compositionally through a visual image. The artist supposedly abolished the force of gravity and entered open Suprematism.

Kazimir Malevich photo
Kazimir Malevich photo

Any painting is a reproduction of the sensory experience of reality. A talented artist is one who does it for sure. The composition of the picture, just like a person, has a top and bottom, left and right sides. The elements of the picture in our perception are affected by the force of gravity in the same way as on real objects in life.

Our perception adjusts for gravity. Any artist guesses about these sensory distortions of perception. For example, a shape located exactly in the geometric center of the sheet will be perceived optically slightly below the middle by the human eye. Our perception adds gravity to our senses. This universal law organizes the compositional space of any painting.

And in the Suprematist compositions of Kazimir Malevich there is no top and bottom, right and left. The forms seem to float or hang in weightlessness. The space seems to be expanded and flattened and resembles a top view.

Such a compositional system appeared for the first time. Many of Malevich's compositions can be turned over, and they will not lose anything. Moreover, Malevich himself, starting to rotate his famous "Black Square", noticed that in perception he first turns into a cross, and then into a circle. This is how a triptych appeared: black square, black cross, black circle. Three primary forms of Suprematism.

"Black Square" became not only the first form of Suprematism, but also the atom of painting. Malevich brought out the essence of any image with this picture. Many years later, with the advent of digital technology, all images began to consist of many square-shaped segments - pixels, atoms of digital images. “Black square” is the very first pixel, zero shapes. The first idea about the segmental structure of the image living in the black square of the monitor, on the other side of the additional reality of the Internet.

The purpose of music is silence

“The purpose of music is silence” is written on the first flyleaf of Kazimir Malevich's notebook, dated 1923. This year the artist published his last manifesto "Suprematist Mirror", in which he equated all the phenomena of the world to zero.

“There is no being neither in me nor outside of me, nothing can change anything, since there is nothing that could change, and there is nothing that could be changed.

The essence of the differences. The world as objectlessness”.

The graphic analogue of this statement was two blank canvases shown by the artist in Petrograd at the "Exhibition of paintings by artists of all directions 1918-1923" in the spring of one thousand nine hundred and twenty-three. The paintings were named in the same way as the manifesto "Suprematist Mirror".

Interestingly, almost fifteen years earlier, Nikolai Kulbin, a friend, colleague and patron of Malevich, an active figure in the new art of that time, wrote the brochure Free Music, in which, several years ahead of the Italian futurist composers, he denied the system of twelve tones. Kulbin is the author of the concept of non-tempered music, quarter-tone music and environment music.

Kulbin believed that the music of nature is free in the choice of sounds: light, thunder, wind noise, water splash, birdsong. Therefore, a composer who writes in the genre of free music should not be "limited to tones and semitones." "He uses quarter tones, octopuses, and music with a free choice of sounds." Free music should be based on the same laws as the music of nature. The main quality of quarter-tone music was the formation of unusual combinations of sounds, harmonies, chords, dissonances with their resolutions and melodies. Such combinations of sounds in the scale are called "close dissonances", their sound is completely different from ordinary dissonances. Kulbin believed that this greatly increases the expressive abilities of music, the ability to materialize.

A little later, similar ideas were expressed by the Italian futurist Luigi Russolo in the manifesto "The Art of Noises".

Several decades later, American philosopher, poet, composer John Cage will compose his famous three-part composition "4'33", which will be presented for the first time by pianist David Tudor at the Benefit Concert organized in support of contemporary art in Woodstock in 1900 fifty-second year. During the sounding of the work, not a single sound was played. The silence lasted for three periods of time, corresponding to the three parts of the composition. Then, bowing, the musicians left, and the hall exploded …

In our time, neither the music of silence nor noise music surprises anyone. Digital instruments allow you to freely record, create and mix sounds, edit them, for example, removing noise. Electronic music, without a single "live" sound, reminiscent of any real instrument, at first became a separate full-fledged musical direction, and later all music turned to some extent into electronic, that is, it became digitized.

Always by our side

The entire creative path of Malevich is a powerful sound desire to break through the edge of physical reality. Abstract intellect pushed the artist to a deep search, to the desire to go behind the screen of the visible and tangible, to penetrate the essence of things.

How will the perception of color, for example, yellow, change subjectively if it is applied to different geometric shapes: a circle, a triangle, a square? How colorless (achromatic) colors affect this color: why does yellow go out on a white background, and light up with a vengeance on black? How does the rhythm and size of the painting spot affect the subjective feeling of the warmth and coldness of color? This kind of questions interested Malevich as a researcher.

Kazimir Malevich forever changed not only art, but also our life. His painting is a formula. Formula of expressiveness where the image can be withdrawn. There is no image, but there is expressiveness.

The emergence of the "Black Square" has changed our life and our consciousness.

Industrial design, graphic design, fashion design, environmental design - so many trends, so many bright names. Today, for a long time no one is surprised by the abstract color forms with which designers fill our reality. A blue circle that turns out to be a lamp. The big red rectangle is a button on the display! Abstract forms have become part of our world.

The appearance of Malevich's "Black Square" photo
The appearance of Malevich's "Black Square" photo

All this might not have happened if Kazimir Malevich had not once written "Black Square" and had not freed form and color from the dictates of a visual image.

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