THEMATIC: The Process of Looking

"Tetrad Series: UNNOTICED AMONG LARGER THINGS," 1999. Digital printing, hand lettering and acrylic paint on canvas, 94 x 94 inches. © John Baldessari. Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.

Artists often guide the way a viewer experiences an artwork. Artists can influence the order of what we see in their work, or change the expectations about what we think a work of art is. The process of looking at a work of art often determines its impact and meaning. Watch Baldessari's segment, and discuss how he thinks about the process of looking and engaging the viewer in his work.

SEGMENT: John Baldessari in "Systems"

Before Viewing
How can artists guide or even control the way audiences see and experience their work?

While Viewing
Baldessari says that art is about making a choice. Pause the segment on a particular image, and describe the choices Baldessari has made. Discuss how these choices contribute to your interpretation of the work.

After Viewing
Choose a work by Baldessari, and talk about the process of looking. What images or ideas do you notice first, second, third? How does your eye travel around these images? What has Baldessari prioritized, and why? How has the artist controlled your experience of viewing?

"Two Person Fight (One Orange): With Spectator," 2004. Three-dimensional digital archival print with acrylic paint on Sintra, Dibond, and Gatorfoam panels, 84 x 79 inches. © John Baldessari. Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.

Assemble a collection of found or self-made images. Rearrange them in different configurations over the course of a day, week, or month. How do different arrangements and juxtapositions affect the way you see and interpret the images? Take notes on your discoveries, and photograph the different configurations, to share with others in an exhibition.