In what ways can art convey equilibrium or disequilibrium? What is reality? How do artists perceive and express it? This episode features artists whose works explore the distinctions between balance and imbalance, and demonstrate that the smallest change in a line, a formal element, or a structure can be a radical proposition.

Often described as a realist, Rackstraw Downes prefers not to use that term. He views the act of seeing and the art of representation as culturally taught, with different cultures accepting different delineations of the world as realistic. As a painter of his surroundings (he does not think of himself as a landscape painter), he attends to the perils and pleasures of perception, the dialogue between abstraction and figuration, and the dissonance between an ideal of nature and what we do to it. With minimal means and classical restraint, Robert Mangold translates the most basic of formal elements—shape, line, and color—into paintings, prints, and drawings whose simplicity of form expresses complex ideas. While his focus on formal considerations may seem paramount, he delights in thwarting those considerations—setting up problems for the viewer. Sarah Sze builds her installations and intricate sculptures from the minutiae of everyday life, imbuing mundane materials, marks, and processes with surprising significance. On the edge between life and art, her work is alive with a mutable quality—as if anything could happen, or not.