Law of Pragnanz of the Gestalt

3 puntosPragnanz is an elusive concept, because it belongs to the negativity of things.

The Law of Prägnanz was established by the Psychology of the Gestalt and adopted by the Bauhaus School in Germany in 1919.

According to this law, there are more pregnant figures that tend to be perceived first or produce a greater visual impact.

gestalt_figurasThis is the case of simple geometric figures, such as the triangle, the circle and the square, which together form the icon of the Bauhaus.

3 puntosIn this image we perceive three circles, despite not being complete. And more surprising is that we also see a triangle, even though it is not even painted. If the blue figures were material objects, the triangle would not exist; and, nevertheless, we see it, because it exists in our mind: it is an illusory triangle. It also existed in the mind of the one who designed the figures. But what has the artist put there – or would it be better to say: what has he taken away, so that we may be seeing something that does not really exist?

In this phenomenon an important mystery is hidden, whose key is not what there is, but what is missing.

Pragnanz for lazy people?
Does pragnanz only serve to complete familiar figures, such as a triangle, a square or a circle? That would be a pragnanz for bums.

Pragnanz facilitates discovering new possibilities in our environment and in ourselves. Humans have imagination to imagine what does not yet exist. To create new things and new ways of looking and listening.

Pragnanz refers to conciseness, but also to openness in art or in the use of language. It encompasses human existence in what is open to a future not yet determined.

Wikipedia Malevich Cuadrado rojo 1026px 1915While the Gestalt pragnanz law refers to the visual perception of incomplete or not entirely obvious forms, artists like Malevitch and Jorge Oteiza gave it a broader and above all more fruitful meaning, which transcends visual phenomena and refers to the experience aesthetic: what he himself defined as existential aesthetics.

Following in this blog the traces of this thought, the pragnanz alerts us to the new thing that we perceive in a misty way by the left side of the body (1) beyond the obvious, the possibilities of the situation in which we find ourselves. Pragnanz thus becomes a key concept of the aesthetic being, inseparable from the emergence of the human, both in the origin of our species and in the development of each child today.

Every situation is lived in a framework in which the subject that experiences it is included, and that framework does not only include real things and events. It also includes possibilities that have not yet been made real. The pregnancy of an object points to those possibilities, invisible but imaginable, that can go beyond the initial frame.

sentidoWhen an artist removes material from the image he is working on, he introduces a tension towards new possibilities. The work thus acquires a meaning. Like this child, who has been “cut” by a finger, but keeps showing us that something important is happening or it can happen outside the frame of the photo.

In the end, it is what allows us to imagine a content in a vacuum and recognize being in nothingness. Also, not only to imagine it, but to get involved, engaging in that imaginary situation, permeating ourselves emotionally. All this clearly takes us much further than the structuralist concept of Gestalt.

Because while the laws of Gestalt are limited to the visual perception of static structures, pragnanz, understood as the foundation of existential aesthetics, can be found in all the arts, including music, novel, poetry, theater, architecture or dance, and it is also found in human language, which is inseparable from the various artistic languages.


(1) 02. Pragnanz in the left handPragnanz in the left hand

The left hand was humanized making it easier to sense what was hidden while building a tool.
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03. Determination on the rightDetermination on the right hand

The right hand rationalized itself, by determining the possibilities presented by the left hand.
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04. Social intelligenceSocial intelligence

The individual intelligence was deployed pushed by the social intelligence of the first humans.
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05. Gatherers and huntersGatherers and hunters

Females and males became even more differentiated in humanization.
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06. Telling stories without wordsTelling stories without words

The forced separation between female gatherers and male hunters, made them find a new way of relating: storytelling.
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