David Garneau - On the Duck-Rabbit Illusion

It’s really complicated. But I found people who have struggled with the duck-rabbit concept really like it. So originally the way it appeared, there’s duck-rabbit. You could see this (pointing at the bill on the duck-rabbit image) as being a bill of the duck, or this (pointing at the other side of the illusion) being the mouth of the rabbit. What I was interested in was what happens when duck-rabbit meets each other. What Jastrow the psychologist and Wittgenstein said was that when you look at duck-rabbit, if you’ve got ducks on your mind you’re going to see ducks. So in the ‘70s they did some experiments. They showed them to kids, and if they showed duck-rabbit to kids who had never seen them before near Easter, they saw rabbits first seventy percent of the time. Near the fall, Thanksgiving, hunting season, they saw ducks seventy percent of the time. So the psychologists and philosophers were saying you project what’s in your mind onto the world so you don’t just recognize things in the world, you project meanings onto things. But I was also interested in what happens, if duck-rabbit is a being, when duck-rabbit meets another duck-rabbit? Because they’re two-dimensional, I mean, they wouldn’t be able to really see each other, but if they could, they would see each other as either duck or as rabbit, so in this way, duck-rabbit’s looking at duck-rabbit and they both just see rabbits (we see the artwork which shows the rabbit faces looking at each other). Or they’re looking away from each other and they see ducks. But this one (the one shown in the video) is way too crazy because this has got Riel’s eyes in there too. So it’s a portrait of Louis Riel as well.

Duration: 1:35 min
Size: 2529kb

Other Videos About This Artist

On Discovering and Embracing His Métis AncestryOn the Duck-Rabbit Illusion
Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning