What is Space?
We experience the world around us in relation to the sky above us and the ground we are standing on. But how does this space translate onto a two dimensional surface? In this presentation we understand space and its attributes. We look at how a division of space becomes a pleasing composition. When can a composition of elements be called pleasing versus cluttered? What is a clutter or scatter? What other words can you think of for the same phenomenon? Do you find examples of clutter in your environment? What are those? Clutter, means lack of order. But what is order? To create clutter, the elements should be arranged such that they do not have any order, that is they are haphazard.
• How to achieve order?
We can understand visual relationship between elements by understanding how visual perception works in humans. Reading about Gestalt laws of perception would help. These laws are:
- Law of similarity
- Law of proximity
- Law of common fate
- Law of continuity
- Law of closure
- Law of Pragnanz
When arrangement of two or more elements is based on principles mentioned above they are said to form a group and have an order. More number of visual relationships shared between elements means better the chance of them forming a group and avoiding clutter.
Let us look at the presentation below to understand what space means.
Look at the next two pictures and write about your understanding of the word space.
To begin with space is infinite. Metaphorically: Space stands for void, emptiness, peace, purity, honesty, etc. Space is the area where designers try to solve their problems. Space is a given environment of any shape and size within which we can arrange several elements. Space is the empty or an open area between, around, above, below or within an object. Space does not have boundaries. Boundary is notional. To define space is to mark its boundary, to enclose it. Space is everything around us, it is a concept.
The unlimited expanse in which everything is located. Certain limitations of degrees create a boundary around the space i.e. whether it’s finite or infinite.
Any space when it gets enclosed by contours becomes finite. The contours can be visible or invisible. Contour defines the space and gives it a shape
The triangle is a balanced and completely stable form in both two and three dimensional forms, but also suggests a dynamic energy, even when equilateral. Unlike the circle or square, the proportions of a triangle can be radically altered to give it directional force without affecting its basic shape. The eye finds this directional force difficult to ignore.
Static- No Directional Pull:
The square is a wholly static form with no directional pull. It can be used to frame, exclude, include, attract, define area or for modular division, and it will sit comfortably in almost any arrangement of multiples. Even when rotated and in a more dynamic, diamond form, it retains its inherent, fixed quality. An extended square or rectangle directs the eye along, up or down its length and beyond, making the eye look for common alignments.
The circle provides a powerful focus for the eye and at the same time invites it to take journey round either itself or a circular layout of any kind of element. By contrast, a series of circles suggests self-contained units and so makes the eye ‘jump’ from one unit to the other quickly, tiring it.
In this presentation we looked at the abstract concept of space and its attributes. We understood how golden mean is derived. The idea of golden mean or golden rectangle is at the heart of this discussion as it demystifies everything from ideal margins to international standard paper sizes (such as A3, A4). It is especially critical when understood in relation to formats in printed communication.
• What is a format?
Everything we see is experienced in relation to its external limits. If we could not relate visual signals to a format- in other words, to a surface, a space, or a limitation in time- our brain would not be able to interpret any of these impressions.
(From the boob Visual grammar by Christian Leborg)
In the next section we look at space as experienced in form of a single page.