Lesson 6: Figure/Ground
**Forgive me it’s a day late, for I was at Balch Park camping with my siblings and my family. =) I love the outdoors.**
But now for the lesson on day 6. Another complex topic. Well at least the stuff that I’m reading is more complex than I thought it would be. In a way this is relevant education to me. They may not be classes I’ve registered for, but the best kind of education, and the best things in life are usually free…if you know what I mean…
Today was figure slash ground. Here’s what I learned:
- figure/ground: is basically a relationship that shapes visual perception
- figure: is the form, always seen in relation to the ground(it’s all relative)
- ground/background: the surroundings of the form
Examples given include: letters to a page, building to its site, a subject of a photo to it’s surrounding. A real-life example would be: self as the figure, and the community as its background. Unfortunately many people see the background as relatively unimportant to the subject/figure, but designers, whether that be good or bad, have been able to make those spaces more active, in a way, eliminating the background (which makes sense to me because that would mean the whole design is important) in Filipino/Tagalog, it’s known as kapwa.
Designers are able to make use of the relationship between figure and ground (also form and counterform; also positive and negative space), finding a balance, which results in an “energy” in their designs. This energy is stimulating to the eyes, perfect right?
“In the design of logotypes and symbols, the distillation of complex meaning into simplified but significant form thrives on the taut reciprocity of figure and ground.”
-Graphic Design: The New Basics
One of the more intriguing things I read was “see if the edges frame a void that is equally appealing.” A void that is appealing, speaks so loudly to me. I’ve always attributed voids to negativity, but now that I think of it, voids can truly be appealing. It’s all a matter of relativity and perspective.
The power to create and destroy form: the different forms.
- stable: this relationship is ‘obvious,’ the form/figure stands clearly apart from its background
- reversible: when the positive and negative attract attention equally, and alternately; we can switch back and forth between
- ambiguous: it says it all; these challenge the viewers to find a local point; makes the eye wander: careful though, it might be distracting
Figure and ground: be the ground to my figure, I’ll be the positive to your negative, form your counterform, if you let me. Allow our relationship to be stable, reversible, ambiguous when we want it to be.
=) ,# <3
For now and until next time.