What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

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Just Tim 4
Just Tim 4 Contributing Member • Posts: 691
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

stevo23 wrote:

lilBuddha wrote:

stevo23 wrote:

lilBuddha wrote:

stevo23 wrote:

lilBuddha wrote:

stevo23 wrote:

Just Tim 4 wrote:

That isn't really what makes it weak. And I would have taken the mountain outline and bright sky as the GAC. But also, squares in that orientation are generally weak and GAC doesn't always have to be where the subject is.

But to me, the image might be weak not because of GAC or negative space use but because there is very little that ties the two primary elements (the foreground structure and the mountains) together - they have practically nothing in common. No common grid, no repetition of shapes or textures or even colors for instance, no common directional gamut etc. etc. Someone may come along and explain why I'm wrong about that.

And through it all we try to make an image fit into our own framework, our own set of labels by which we define and bring logic to our own images.

But what if it doesn't fit?

The first image, a classic use of *negative space* to define shape. The flow of water. It's an image of simple shapes and contrasts with simple and complementary colours.

It was a beautiful scene, balanced and harmonious, and I hope I did it justice. But is that peace and harmony really an intrinsic part of the image and the processing or is it in your memory and experience?

The second image. A little more abstract as though the top is defined by a shape outlined by negative space the bottom half is far less well delineated. In the bottom half the figure ground relationship is reversed and we have light shapes well defined against a darker and more detailed ground. It creates a little more tension between the two in my mind.

The third contains no real negative space, but place it in a thread with the title of negative space and we automatically try to fit it within that pre-assumed meaning as though we decide what the image is about by reading the title, the words, and make our judgement based on our understanding of the meaning of those words. It is a scene that doesn't fit together, one that will always have a tension between figure and ground. So why do we wish to make it harmonious and fit into a co-hesive whole? Because that is the only way to fit it within our understanding or how we think images should work? It's actually the industrial derelict of the old Torpedo Testing Station at Arrochar. It's odd and very disjointed, built on land and extending over a concrete pier into a beautiful and scenic loch. So why can't I create a disjointed feeling between the two, why does it have to conform to your logic of a whole and cohesive image?

Yep, it's a Gestalt principle, things are seen as relating to each other and sense is made by equating that relationship to real world experience. Just because you need things to conform to a logical narrative doesn't mean that images have to, it just means that you will always try to form a logical understanding of the image as a whole.

All the time we do not question our own base assumptions about how we label images and make assumptions about how they work.

But what if the key was actually contained within the reason why we make assumptions and try to label how images work? If it is not in having the correct set of pigeon-hole but in our need to have the pigeon holes to explain images?

So what is more important, being able to label, analyse the image and apply the correct terms?

Or is it in being able to understand how different visual interpretations are rooted in a visual understanding? And where will you find the root to this understanding, the handle to which you can open the door?

I'm not entirely sure I can show you the way, I'm still searching and stumbling in the dark myself. But I'm sure it can't be found in a pigeon hole under an exact label...


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