Part 2 Project 1: Research Point

Important note: This blog post forms only part of this research task. It accompanies research and notes on contemporary works recorded manually in a paper learning-log. Due to UK copyright law this log will not be posted on line. It will, however, be made available in electronic form to tutors for the purposes of assessment. 

Positive and Negative Space

As positive space is the area and space that defines an object, so negative space is the area and space around and in between objects.

Rubin, Vase
Rubin, Vase

Many artists have used interplay between positive and negative space to create optical illusions, the most classic example being Rubins’ vase: do you see the vase or do you see two faces. The graphic artist Maurits Escher used a similar effect in his famous tessellation woodcuts such as Sky and Water I. There are many contemporary artists, such as Tang Yau Hoong using this illusional effect of positive and negative space.

Troy Deshano produces striking images in which the positive and negative spaces compete against one another for your eye. It is the stark contrast in tones along the simple boundary lines that make you wonder if you are looking at an image on a background, or a background containing an image.

Gertrude Goldschmidt used negative ‘lines’ created by negative spaces to explore the idea of form and formlessness, and the relationship between lines, spaces and planes (for instance Untitled, 1963). Her drawings were often exhibited in conjunction with hugh sculptures of wire, creating nets of lines and spaces – drawing in three-dimensions. As you look at some of her drawings of parallel lines encompassing spaces, different planes float into view and then recede to the background again, your eyes constantly adjusting to different depths of fields.

Toba Khedoori uses negative space to great effect outside of the object of interest in her images. She takes everyday objects, isolated, out of usual context and puts them in a vast space. This has the effect of leaving the viewer to ponder the significance of those objects as they ‘float’ isolated and seemingly without relationship to other objects.

Part 2 Project 1: Research Point

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